Utah high school winter sports and activities will continue in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Events will continue with masks, physical distancing and spectators to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in 2021.
The UHSAA Board of Trustees moved to allow sports and activities to continue with masks and physical distancing effective immediately. After losing much of the school year and activities in 2020, lawmakers and state leaders have stressed the importance of education and the activities around it.
The virus is behind a global pandemic that has killed more than 420,000 people in the U.S. and 1,571 in Utah. Most of those killed by the virus are older but Utah has tallied a high death count in January and tallied 24 deaths Friday and 30 Thursday.
"This decision is based on a mandate of masks for all spectators and a strong emphasis made on physical distancing of students in a defined area," a release from the UHSAA said.
Member schools will enforce mask-wearing requirements as the primary way to avoid the spread of COVID-19 with mandatory masks for spectors and all those not actively involved in activities.
The memo sent to high schools had specific guidelines for each of the activities including basketball, drill, swimming and wrestling. The entire memo with extensive guidelines are below.
"The requirement of up to four tickets per participant, not to exceed 25% of venue capacity, remains for counties in High-to-Moderate Transmission levels," the memo said.
There are also guidelines for all sports that include rules for storing masks of participants, social distancing at school facilities, symptom checking for all participants before activities, ongoing training and recommendations for those who test positive.
The first guideline says:
Masks are to be worn properly and at all times for all individuals in the fa- cility who are not currently engaged in strenuous physical exertion (sports) or not actively performing (activities). Participants who are actively exerting themselves and officials actively exerting themselves in physical activity shall be exempt.
The general memo reads:
"In Utah we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play winter sports. In the spirit of cooperation and consistency, we appreciate everyone doing their part in allowing our student-athletes to finish their winter sports season.
"Information on individual state tournaments will be released over the coming weeks."
There are also different rules for counties with different transmission risk indexes.