Mississippi High School group issues virus guidelines for fall sports

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Mississippi High School Activities Association announced guidelines Tuesday for fall sports competition as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consistent protocols across all sports include the requirement of wearing a mask to gain entry and maintaining social distancing when possible for all attendees. For teams and players, dressing rooms should be large enough to social distance, benches should include team personnel only, and any student who tests positive for the coronavirus must provide proof of a negative test by their medical provider before returning. Handshakes, high-fives, fist bumps and hugs are also banned, as well as the sharing of personal items.

Personnel should wear gloves and masks, establish a plan for proper food preparation, restrict pedestrian flow in common areas and use gofan.co for digital ticket sales. Congregation in parking lots before and after events is discouraged, and only school staff, certified coaches, athletic trainers and student-athletes should be present at practices.

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Masks are not required for student-athletes engaged in competition.

Additionally, any game by which a team elects not to compete will be counted as a forfeit regardless of if that team’s school is using traditional, blended, virtual or remote learning models.

Read below for guidelines by sport. The full MHSAA release can be found here.


Rule considerations include lengthening the field box to the 10-yard lines to provide more social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing the ball throughout games and the extension of timeouts, the time between periods — not including halftime — and any scoring play to two minutes.

Congregations during timeouts should take place between the 9-yard lines rather than the sideline, and players should have their own beverage container delivered to them on the field. Pregame and overtime coin tosses should also be limited to the referee, umpire and one representative from each team.


Runners should remain with their team during events and not socialize with other teams, start times should be staggered to allow for social distancing and all results should be posted online at MS.MileSplit.com by the host school to avoid crowding of attendees.

The MHSAA recommends courses be widened to 6 feet at its narrowest point and technology be used to record times and final place to avoid congestion at finish lines. Groups of the same student-athletes should continually work out together to limit exposure.


Teams switching benches between sets should be suspended unless officials determine one side presents an advantage or disadvantage, then switching sides may be permitted.

Roster submissions should not take place at the pre-match conference but rather be distributed to the officials’ table prior to the 10-minute mark. Instead of a coin toss to determine serve, the MHSAA recommends the visiting team automatically serve first in the opening set, followed by the two teams alternating serve to start the remaining sets.