The South Dakota High School Activities Association's fall sports task force has recommended an on-time start to fall sports with some modifications.

Health experts, board members, superintendents, activities directors, and coaches made up a panel to study the COVID-19 pandemic within South Dakota, and make recommendations on how sports would look for this upcoming year. After multiple weeks of discussion, the SDHSAA task force will recommend to the SDHSAA Board of Directors to begin fall sports on time.

If approved by the SDHSAA Board of Directors, fall sports including golf, tennis, soccer, competitive cheer/dance, cross country, and football will be able to begin as normally scheduled. The SDHSAA Board of Directors is scheduled for a special meeting this Wednesday (July 22) at 11:00 AM to either approve or disapprove the motion.

Included with the proposal to start sports on time are the procedures on how screenings will be conducted. Those procedures are as followed:

  • All rostered individuals (athletes, managers, statisticians, coaching staff,
    cheerleaders) and other school personnel involved (bus drivers, etc) will be
    screened daily for CDC recommended indicators of COVID-19. Any individuals
    with unexplained positive responses (i.e.- intestinal issues following a large meal,
    headache with a history of migraines, etc.) must not be allowed to
    practice/compete/coach/assist until they have been evaluated by medical
    personnel. Sample screening document found in Appendix B.
  • NOTE- Individuals with positive screening responses are NOT automatically
    placed in a 14-day quarantine period. However, if individuals with positive
    responses refuse to be evaluated by medical personnel and provide that
    notification to the school, they must sit out and monitor for further symptoms
    for 14 days from the onset of symptoms to ensure recovery.
  • Depending upon school policies, screening for fever may be done at the school
    or at home.
  • All contest officials and judges will self-screen the day of the contest and report
    to site host administrator. Any individuals with unexplained positive responses
    (i.e.- intestinal issues following a large meal, headache with a history of
    migraines, etc.) must not be allowed to officiate/judge until they have been
    evaluated by medical personnel.
  • Athletes, participants, coaches, and officials who are in a vulnerable population
    should take extra precaution and visit with their physician about participation,
    particularly in sports/activities that do not allow for consistent social distancing.

In the event of a positive test, the SDHSAA would follow these protocols for close contact and treating those positive cases:

  • ALL indications of positive cases and confirmed close contact (within 6 feet for
    at least 15 minutes of time starting two days prior to symptom onset) must
    come through the South Dakota Department of Health.
  • Any Department of Health verified close contact
    (student/coach/official/judge/team personnel) must follow SDDOH guidelines.
    Currently, those guidelines require a 14-day quarantine from the date of contact
    away from school and daily screening of symptoms.
  • Any Department of Health verified positive case
    (student/coach/official/judge/team personnel) must follow SDDOH guidelines.
    Currently, those guidelines require the individual to self-isolate for 10 days from
    the first onset of symptoms and must be fever free for 72 hours without the use
    of fever-reducing medications. Any individual
    (student/coach/official/judge/team personnel) with a verified positive case must
    have a physician complete the SDHSAA COVID Return to Play form prior to
    returning to competition/coaching/officiating/judging/team membership. For
    students, if the physician indicates the need for the return to play protocol due
    to hospitalization, cardiopulmonary concerns, or otherwise, the school must
    verify that the return to play protocol is followed
  • Schools must notify the SDHSAA of any verified close contact or positive cases of
    rostered individuals via the SDHSAA School Zone. No personally identifiable
    information will be contained in the notification to the SDHSAA. All information
    will be treated in compliance with HIPAA and FERPA from the member school
    and the SDHSAA. Dr. Swartos from the SDHSAA will be part of the
    SDDOE/SDDOH School Response Team.
  • SDDOH Case Investigation outline from

While sports may start on time, there will be some modifications to how the sports are conducted. Football, for example, would limit the number of captains a team can have and eliminate pre-game tunnel introductions.


Mandatory Modifications:

  • Rule 1-2: Team Boxes may be extended length-wise to the 15-yard lines
    on either end to promote social distancing of 6’ from one another in the
    team box.
  • Rule 1-3: Game Balls may be rotated more frequently than previously
    allowed to ensure cleaning and sanitization of balls between downs. “Ball
    Boys” should practice social distancing and must remain on their own
    teams’ sideline or end-zone area during the contest (and not on the
    opponents sideline).
  • Rule 1-5: Face masks with integrated visors that connect to the entirety of
    the mask may be worn, as long as the visor is 100% clear and free of tint.
  • At this time – Cloth masks and face coverings are not permissible, as
    they affect the legality of and ability to properly wear chin straps and
    mouthguards. The NFHS SMAC will be releasing additional guidance on
    this matter soon.
  • Rule 2-6 & 3-5: Charged Time-Outs are to be 120 seconds in length.
    Conferences during Charged Time-Outs must be held within the nine-yard
    marks on the field and not at the sideline. More than one coach, however,
    may now be part of this nine-yard mark conference, and, technological
    devices may be used in this conference.
  • Rule 3-5: Quarter Breaks are to be 120 seconds in length as well and
    follow the same guidelines as above for a charged time-out.
  • Coin Toss: Only FOUR captains may attend per team. Eliminate handshake
    as required in manual.
  • Line-To-Gain Crew shall be located on the HOME team’s sideline,
    regardless of orientation to press box. Chain-gang crew shall not enter
    the playing field. If a measurement is needed, officials should deliver
    chains to the field, not the chain crew
  • Eliminate Individual Introductions of players/tunnel line from all
    contests. Starting Units can be introduced, but not with the run-through
    action of athletes as names are called.
  • No common distribution of water accessible to multiple parties. Each
    athlete must have his or her own Water Bottle. Officials should
    provide/be provided their own, specific beverage containers as well.
  • Clean frequently touched areas, and provide ample hand sanitizer at all
    practices and contests
  • NO NON-TEAM PERSONNEL IN THE TEAM BOX. Media and others must
    remain outside of the team box area at all times.

Optional Modifications:

  • Strongly Encourage facilities that use a shared sideline for both teams to
    reconfigure so that each team has their own sideline to enhance
  • Consideration that the only field-level personnel during contests are
    officials and team personnel. Media, parents, spectators, cheerleaders, etc., should be in a socially distant area of the facility away from the on-
    field action.

A full list of screen procedures, modifications for each sport, and fan attendance recommendations can be found through the official document: SDHSAA COVID-19 Task Force Recommendations.

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