AIA, Gov Ducey start to lay out conditions for high school, youth sports to return


During an Arizona Interscholastic Association executive board meeting via Zoom May 28, the board endorsed a set of guidelines produced by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for what a safe return to practice and competition might entail.

The 12-page document includes a list of behaviors to avoid to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, maintaining health environments - including no water fountains - plus maintaining healthy operations, protocols for sick players, coaches, staff members - as well as people in those roles living with someone afflicted with COVID-19.

These guidelines do not come with a specific start date for a return to weight and conditioning workouts, more in depth practices, or games. Instead the guideline lay out a three-phased approach to return to play.

“Our priority through this is for the safety and well-being of all our state’s student-athletes and those that support them,” AIA Executive Director David Hines stated in a press release. “We are not guaranteed to have a fall season. We are preparing to be ready on time, but it will all depend on how this situation develops as the summer goes on. We just ask that schools, coaches, players and parents consider and utilize the guidelines until we get back to normal.”

The recommendations are based on the phased reopening of the state outlined by Governor Doug Ducey. However, local public health authorities are ultimately in charge of their communities.

A recommendation by the AIA cannot supersede local ordinances. If a conflict was to occur, alternative activities may take place as long as they aren’t in violation of AIA regulations.

Several West Valley school districts and their teams have released plans to get to Phase 1, and soon. The Agua Fria Union High School District and Dysart Unified District are allowing summer workouts starting Monday, June 1.

On May 28, the Deer Valley Unified School District updated parents in an email stating the district’s intent to start conditioning Wednesday, June 3. Several Peoria Unified School District athletic programs that the district has set Monday, June 8 as the tentative date to resume team activities.

Daily temperature checks are strongly encouraged, and all participants must be symptom free for at least 14 days. Cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment and personal material is required.

Phase 2 allows for larger groups than Phase 1, though gym and other public facilities remain closed unless proper social distancing and sanitation can be observed.

Temperature checks, cleaning and disenfecting protocol will remain the same in Phase 2. And in both phases, athletes are to remain in the same training group.

If the state can enter Phase 3, public training facilities can reopen with normal group sizes and all sports may resume usual activities. Social distancing is not required in this phase, equipment and shared material must be cleaned before and after each use.

The guidelines also include more thorough rules for gradual heat acclimatization, injury prevention recommendations. Administrators, facilities management also were sent multi-part guidelines.

Later May 28, Gov. Ducey allowed youth sports to resume in Arizona as part of his press conference.

The full AIA recomennded guidelines can be found here.