The coronavirus pandemic has caused sports around the globe to stop, and while professional leagues are starting to create plans to resume, there is a major question mark surrounding youth and high school sports. According to guidelines released on Tuesday by the National Federation of State High School Associations, activities will be seriously limited, even when workouts resume. 

The guidelines explain that actions such as passing a basketball or football and sharing a bat should not be permitted when sports first get the green light to resume, in order to limit the exposure to the virus:

"The NFHS SMAC believes it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition. The NFHS SMAC recognizes that it is likely that ALL students will not be able to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time in all schools, regions and states. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held. While we would typically have reservations regarding such inequities, the NFHS SMAC endorses the idea of returning students to school-based athletics and activities in any and all situations where it can be done safely."

Their detailed guide was written by the NFHS sports medicine advisory committee and goes through the three phases of starting high school sports.

Each phase of the 16-page document has five categories

  • Screening
  • Limitations on gatherings
  • Facilities cleanings
  • Athletic equipment
  • Hydration

The National Federation of State High School Associations says that the number of people presents at a work out should be limited as well. They state no more than 10 people should be participating in a workout session at any time, which adheres to social distancing guidelines that have been put in place across the country.

It details what states and schools should do to protect their students and coaches, giving instructions on how to test athletes, sanitize equipment and educate all involved.

Naturally the phases get more lenient, with with phase 1 having the most restrictions. Here's a breakdown:

  • Phase 1 emphasizes that athletes should not be touching the same things, like softballs, baseballs, tackling dummies and footballs.
  • Phase 2 allows 10 people to be present at a practice held indoors and 50 people outdoors. They still ask all athletes remain six feet apart
  • Phase 3 will allow 50 people indoors as well as outdoors.

"We are greatly indebted to the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for its work in formulating this guidance for re-opening high school athletics and activities," Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director said in her statement. "It is important to be clear that this is guidance for individual states to consider as they return to activities this fall. States will utilize the guidance in this document as it best fits their state after consulting with local and state health departments."

The guide asks states to evaluate whether they will carry out athletics if the schools remain closed and if there are recommendations unique to the state that should be considered.