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TSSAA board chooses a contingency plan… Board approves a hybrid option 2 plan should Lee’s plan expire on August 29th

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
It took nearly two hours during a special called TSSAA Board of Control meeting for members to vote on a contingency plan for the 2020 Tennessee prep football season should Governor Bill Lee’s State of Emergency expire on August 29th allowing schools to move back to contact sports.
By a unanimous vote, the board to select Contingency plan option two with a hybrid plan which basically allows for an eight-game season w/4 week playoffs (drop 1st round of playoffs).
The hybrid portion of the plan allows for schools to keep most of their opponents with the condition that all region games to be played to help eliminate greater headaches for coaches and athletic directors in trying to find opponents to play for their season.
Elizabethton was mentioned as part of an example where the Cyclones are scheduled to play William Blount in week seven and during that same time frame Maryville was scheduled to play Fulton High School so to make sure that William Blount and Maryville can play their region game, those two teams would meet in week seven with the Cyclones having the option of playing against Fulton.
Information is being sent to the school’s coaches and administrations as to how to handle the option selected.
The board also mentioned a possibility that if Governor Lee could give the go-ahead before August 3rd, the regularly scheduled season would be played.
However, that is unlikely to happen as Tennessee has been a focal hotspot of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Executive Director Bernard Childress started out the meeting that information from sources that said that the TSSAA and Governor Lee’s legal department had been playing a chess match was so far from the truth.
“We are working hand in hand with the Governor’s office and even had a conversation with them today before this meeting,” stated Childress. “Everything we are doing has been vetted by the Governor’s office and both sides have agreed upon where we are today.
“Regardless of what happens here today, we are going to continue to go by the Executive Order that is in place as far as contact and collision sports go.
“This is not the TSSAA versus the Governor’s office.”
The board approved regulations and guidelines that became effective after the board voted unanimously to approve the regulations presented.
Some of those regulations that went into effect for all sports for the 2020-2021 school year include:
1. Everyone must have their temperatures checked prior to practice every day and if a temperature of 100.4 is read, they will be automatically sent home and cannot return to practice without written documentation verify they did not have COVID-19 as part of the temperature.
2. If an athlete is sick, they are not to come to practice.
3. Every player, coach, and support personnel must answer a screening questionnaire in regard to their health on a weekly basis.
4. There will be no scrimmages, jamborees, or practices with teams from another school. Teams are only allowed to practice among themselves. Basketball and wrestling are winter sports but fall under the Governor’s order and must not participate in anything other than conditioning and weight lifting.
5. Everyone must have temperatures checked who enter a facility. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 will be denied access. Checklist and signage will also be posted and these will be made available for printout for schools on the TSSAA website and portal.
6. Where fans are permitted, schools should consider only 1/4 to 1/3 of total occupancy in facility and seating should be marked off to promote social distancing. Also, all fans must wear face masks the entire time they are attending contests. The only exception for face mask will be children two and under.
7. School bands, pep bands, and cheerleaders attending events will be required to follow temperature checks, face masks, and health screening regulations.
8. The host PA announcer will be required to make announcements about requirements for face masks and practicing social distancing.
9. Concession stands are highly discouraged to help reduce people gathering in the area. If concessions do occur, the number of concession workers needs to be limited and will be required to wear a face-covering and social distance.
“These regulations are in place for all sports throughout the school year,” Childress stated. “When the Governor’s order is lifted, the pandemic will still be here.”
One other vote that had major implications was how to handle if during the regular season or postseason for football and postseason for all other sports that a team cannot participate due to a COVID-19 outbreak which requires the team to be quarantined for 14 days.
During the regular season, the board approved that one team cannot play due to COVID-19, for post-season playoff seeding purposes the opposing team would be considered a winner of the contest.
If teams scheduled to participate both have COVID-19 and cannot play, the game will be considered a no-contest with neither being deemed a winner or loser.
During post-season play, if a team cannot play due to a COVID-19 outbreak, their name will be removed from the playoffs and a bye will be given to their opponent.
The vote was unanimous for the recommendation.
If Governor Lee happens to extend his State of Emergency, the Board of Control will have to call another meeting to readdress the football season and the rest of fall sports at that point.
Regulations and the option selected for football will be available on the TSSAA website for further review.