NIAA releases new guidance as Fallon, Oasis begin fall season

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Weekly testing and masks are back in Silver State high school athletics.
But, as of now, it’s full steam ahead with the regular fall season, which began last weekend with practices and tryouts. Games are allowed to begin next week when Fallon’s football team hosts Reno from the 5A.
Donnie Nelson, interim executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, provided an update on Friday in response to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Directive 048 earlier in the week. The new directive said counties with more than 100,000 people must mandate face coverings for all K-12 students in an indoor setting regardless of vaccination status and that the NIAA must promulgate testing for high-contact sports, including football. Only Washoe and Clark counties fall into the high-population category.
During Friday’s live-stream call on the NIAA’s YouTube channel, Nelson issued guidelines for the upcoming fall season, including weekly testing for football and the mask requirement for all except a team’s game-eligible student-athletes.
As of Monday, Nelson said the guidelines were awaiting state approval to ensure they adhere to Direction 048.
The mask requirement applies only if counties fall into the CDC’s “Substantial” or High” categories for COVID-19 community transmission.
Nelson said that if there’s community spread, the state may impose stricter guidelines. In accordance with the new directive and if more restrictive mitigation polices are in place, the visiting teams must adhere to those guidelines.
However, a school or district can require players to wear masks, which would apply to visiting teams. Nelson, though, said that schools and districts in all counties cannot require masks in sports that involve high level of physical exertion, including cross country, football, soccer, tennis, basketball, wrestling, swimming and diving, and track and field. Players are allowed to wear masks if they wish.
In Churchill County, Fallon and Oasis Academy both have volleyball teams with the Greenwave competing in the Elmo Derrico Gymnasium and the Bighorns using the city-county gym behind Safeway’s. Games begin in two weeks.
Regarding testing, football programs will need to conduct it like last spring with one exception: only unvaccinated players and team personnel must be tested weekly. It will be up to the schools and their districts on how they implement the testing protocols. Testing results must be submitted to the NIAA by 11:59 p.m. Saturday of each week.
All other NIAA-sanctioned sports are subject to testing if those teams are traveling outside their county. Nelson said the NIAA is encouraging that screenings happen prior to contests.
Brooke Hill’s football program did not cancel any of its games unlike several teams in the 3A and 5A. The Northern 5A football championship between Spanish Springs and Damonte Ranch was canceled because of positive tests.
The Greenwave scrimmages this Friday and opens the season on Aug. 20 at home against Reno from the 5A.
Collectively, both Fallon and Oasis Academy went the entire sports calendar without canceling a game due to a positive test.
“The most important thing is education-based athletics and activities still have the opportunity to play as of now, and we are very excited and looking forward to a fantastic fall season,” Nelson said.


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