State modification opens door to high school football, wrestling

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Gov. John Carney on Tuesday signed the 26th modification to his State of Emergency Order, releasing updated guidance from the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) on playing fall sports in Delaware.

The new guidance categorizes sports by risk – high risk, medium risk, and low risk – and requires sports organizers to follow guidance around masks, social distancing, and other preventive measures to keep players, families, and coaches safe.

Anyone playing a high-risk sport, including football and wrestling, must wear a face mask at all times, or an organization or league must present a plan to DPH to modify the sport to limit contact, according to the guidance. The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) has the final determination on whether school sports may resume in Delaware.

Carney, who played high school and college football, said he was skeptical about the use of face coverings by football players. He added that recent guidance indicates that the coverings can be tolerated.

All youth and adult amateur sports facilities and organizations must review and follow the DPH guidance. Every athletic facility and sports organization is responsible for enforcing these requirements.

Fines or closure may be imposed on facilities and organizations that do not follow DPH guidance for playing fall sports safely. Failure to comply with plans submitted to, and approved by, DPH will result in the rescission of plan approval and further enforcement.

“We value the important physical, social, and emotional role that recreational and league sports plays in both the lives of youth and adults,” said DPH Health Systems Protection Chief Jamie Mack. “Our focus is making sure that it can be done safely for not only players, but also coaches, officials, spectators, and others involved. We will continue to concentrate on face covering and social distancing requirements as critically important strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during practice and play.”

Mack cautioned that masks must be worn, not only by athletes, but also by coaches and fans. Congregating is also out.

Click here to read Delaware’s fall sports guidance.

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