A cone marks where Yelm High School football players are to line up during practice on Wednesday, July 1, to stay at least 6 feet apart.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released new return-to-play guidelines for high school athletics last week. The guidelines come in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement of new requirements for sports.

The new guidelines, which were previously based on the state’s four-phased Safe Start reopening plan, will now be tied to each county’s COVID-19 rate, including cases per 100,000 residents. 

Sports activities are categorized into low, medium and high risk, as well as by a counties’ virus spread and case rate. WIAA labels counties with 75 cases per 100,000 or higher and a test positivity rate of 5 percent to be a “high risk of transmission.” 

Counties with 25-75 cases per 100,000 and less than 5 percent positivity rate are labeled “medium” risk, while counties with less than 25 cases per 100,000 and fewer than a 5 percent positivity rate are considered “low” risk.

Season 2 sports are set to begin Dec. 28 under the WIAA’s modified athletic calendar, which include basketball, wrestling, boys swim and dive and bowling. Basketball and wrestling are both considered high-risk sports, which can’t begin competing until a county is under 25 cases per 100,000. Bowling and gymnastics, which are medium-risk, can begin once a county falls under 75 cases per 100,000. Swimming, which is low-risk, can compete even if a county is above 75 cases per 100,000.

For all sports, no spectators allowed except for one parent/guardian/caregiver for each student-participant in uniform. Spectators must maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet between each person.


High: 75 cases/100K/14 days or over 5 percent positivity

• Team practices and/or training can resume for low, medium, and high-risk sports if players are limited to groups of six in separate parts of the field/court and separated by a buffer zone.

• Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games or competition allowed for low-risk sports, but are discouraged if the school is not conducting some in-person learning

• No tournaments allowed.


Moderate: under 25-75 cases/100K/14 days and under 5 percent positivity

• Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games allowed for both low and moderate-risk sporting activities. Scrimmage, intra-team competitions allowed for high-risk sporting activities.

• No tournaments allowed.


Low: under 25 cases/100K/14 days and under 5 percent positivity

• Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games allowed for low, moderate, and high-risk sporting activities.

• Tournaments allowed.

• Spectators must follow the gathering-size limit of the Safe Start Plan.

Low-risk sporting activities include cross country; golf, sideline/no-contact cheerleading and dance; swim and dive; tennis; track and field.

Medium-risk sporting activities include baseball; bowling; gymnastics; soccer; softball; volleyball.

High-risk sporting activities include basketball; cheerleading with contact; dance with contact; football; wrestling.

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