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Fans can attend fall middle, high...

Fans can attend fall middle, high school sports but must wear masks, per new MHSAA guidelines

By: Frank Corder - July 29, 2020

The Mississippi High School Activities Association released its fall sports guidelines on Tuesday outlining steps to comply with state and federal health and safety guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The good news is MHSAA is assuming fans can attend middle and high school sports, but those fans but be wearing a mask or they cannot enter.

The guidelines are not an exhaustive list, MHSAA notes, and there might be additional steps in each community to help prevent the spread of virus.

“Even when taking all precautions, there will still be risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of members of their teams,” the release states. “These guidelines are to be integrated with the NFHS guidelines and the MHSAA Mississippi Sports Medicine guidelines. The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing. Please keep up with the latest from the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health.”

Below is the full list of guidelines provided by MHSAA:


  • Attendance policy & quarantine procedure will be determined before team competition begins and at the appropriate time
  • Post social distancing signs inside & outside of facility
  • No mask no entry
  • All game day personnel involved in the athletic event should be screened prior to working the event. Game day personnel include, but are not limited to, chain crew, officials, athletic trainers, timers, judges, scorers, ball boy/girl, etc.
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • On duty personnel wear mask/gloves
  • Any auxiliary persons (ticket takers, concession stand workers, security, media, and volunteers) should be screened prior to working an athletic event. Method of screening may be determined by host school
  • Any auxiliary participant who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 should follow CDC and MDH guidelines before being allowed to work an event
  • Restroom attendant mask/gloves
  • Concession stand workers mask/gloves
  • Create a plan for line management at concession stands
  • Establish a plan for proper food preparation per FDA/CDC guidelines for food
  • Use single-serve condiment packets
  • Only clock operator & PA announcer in the press box
  • Have PA announcer broadcast social distance reminders
  • Restrict pedestrian flow in common areas
  • Create media guidelines and communicate these prior to and at each event

Dressing Rooms

  • Sanitize before and after
  • Size of facility should be large enough to social distance
  • Time spent in dressing room for home/away team should not be excessive

Band & Spirit Teams

  • Band will travel to away games at discretion of school administration
  • Band must wait until both teams exit field at halftime before entering
  • Cheer teams spaced on sidelines for social distancing (stunt with admin approval)
  • Dance teams spaced on sidelines for social distancing
  • No visiting before/after game or half-time between schools
  • These groups should always remain separate from game participants and remain away from the fans or non-group members


  • It is an expectation member schools will comply with CDC, MDH, and local health agencies related to best practices for facilities
  • When possible, team bench areas should be arranged so access is for team personnel only. In addition, bench areas should accommodate proper physical distancing. When not feasible, other mitigation methods, such as facial coverings may be implemented.
  • Revise team drop-off/pick-up procedures to allow for social distancing
  • Eliminate team walks through fan zones
  • Use for digital ticket sales
  • Establish designated parking areas for team buses/equipment trucks
  • Discourage congregating in parking lots before/after event
  • Address social distancing with tailgating
  • Host schools should communicate prior to an event the local restrictions regarding mitigation of COVID-19 to the visiting team, officials, media, fans, etc.
  • Communication between member schools should also include, but is not limited to, information regarding parking, concessions, locker rooms, ticketing, payment methods, entrance/exit gates, band, cheerleaders, etc.
  • Post new guidelines on school website & social media throughout the season
  • Re-assess current policies for inclement weather during an event


  • Host schools should provide contest officials an area to enter and exit separate from fans when possible. Officials should be provided a dressing and meeting area that has been cleaned and disinfected prior to their arrival that provides for appropriate spacing between individuals
  • Officials’ table should be limited to essential personnel which includes home team scorer and timer with a recommended distance of 3 to 6 feet between individuals. Visiting team personnel (scorer, statisticians, etc.) are not deemed essential and may need to find an alternative location. The number allowed at the officials’ table is determined by the space available at the table. When physical distancing cannot be maintained, facial coverings are suggested.
  • Officials should have their own labeled, beverage container, and these should be brought onto the field or court for their use during time outs or breaks.


  • Local school system and school administration may determine the safest way to travel to and from contests in accordance with CDC, MDH, and their local health department
  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained, facial coverings are suggested
  • Assigned seating is suggested


  • MHSAA bylaws allow non-traditional students (virtual) to participate in athletics if they have met all other MHSAA eligibility requirements.
  • However, local school system(s) may have more restrictive guidelines. If a school or school system prohibits virtual school students from athletic/activity participation, it is a local school decision.
  • Whether a school campus is open or closed regardless of the instructional model {traditional, blended, virtual, remote learning}, in the event any contest is not played during the regular season the game will be forfeited game by the team whose school is not participating, and the other team will be awarded a “win”. In this case, no fines or forfeitures will be assessed.
  • If a school is not able to participate in a contest, the local school principal must notify the MHSAA Executive Director in writing.

Mitigation Strategies

  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained facial coverings are suggested
  • It is suggested that students avoid close contact with others and maintain a physical distance of six feet or greater. Close contact is considered being within 6 feet for 15 minutes.
  • Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 (regardless of where the exposure occurred) should follow protocols set forth by the CDC, MDH, and their local health department.
  • Any student with a prior confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis should receive a negative COVID-19 by their medical provider before returning.
  • Any time physical distancing cannot be maintained by students, coaches, spectators, etc. wearing a facial covering is suggested. This includes sidelines, benches, etc. for all contest participants.
  • Only school personnel, certified coaches, athletic trainers, and student-athletes should be present during practices. Attendance of non-essential personnel is not recommended until further notice.
About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: