Kathryn PerricoChristina PeerAugust 4, 2020 

On August 1, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued a third Order related to contact sports, which extends the expiration date of its second amended Order. Notably, unlike previous orders that had a set expiration date, the third Order will remain in effect until either the State of Emergency declared by the Governor ends or the Order is rescinded or revised by the Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

In the latest Order, contact training and practice may continue for all sports.

Competitive games and tournaments are permitted for non-contact sports, subject to the previously existing guidelines relating to symptom assessment, distancing, avoiding shared equipment where possible, and mask wearing.

For contact sports, no practices or open gyms with other teams or groups or inter-team (school vs. school) scrimmages or competitive games are permitted unless all involved teams comply with Section 10 of the Order (see below for more information).

In the Order, ODH defines contact sports as one of the following: football, basketball, rugby, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, hockey, boxing, futsal and martial arts with opponents.

In addition to the existing guidelines, Section 10 provides stringent requirements, which include:

  • Denial of participation for anyone displaying symptoms within 72 hours of the event
  • Acknowledgment of receipt of materials explaining Covid-19 precautions
  • Receipt of a negative test before traveling to the competition
  • Testing of all participating athletes and team staff members no more than 72 hours prior to the competition
  • Denial of participation for all individuals or teams with a member testing positive and with strict adherence to quarantine guidelines
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Repeated testing at 4 days and every 2 thereafter for tournaments of a longer nature
  • Separate team areas for pre-competition practice
  • Daily certification to the local health department that protocols are being followed
  • Maintenance of a contact log for all participants, and provision of the log to local and state departments of health upon request
  • Denial of access to spectators
  • Communication to and coordination with the local health department upon learning of a positive case

School districts will need to conduct careful planning and oversight as well as develop and maintain all required documents to meet the state’s requirements. Furthermore, consultation with counsel is advised prior to entering into any agreement or acknowledgement requested by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).

Kathryn Perrico is a partner at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at kperrico@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2948.

Christina Peer is chair of the Education Law Group at  Walter | Haverfield. She can be reached at  cpeer@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2918.