October 14, 2020
The winter high school sports season in New Jersey will operate as planned amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJSIAA announced that winter sports teams can begin practices on Dec. 3 and regular season competition can get underway on Dec. 21, as long as schools follow the state’s gathering limits for indoor athletics.
The number of people permitted at a practice or competition will be limited to 25% of the room’s capacity. That limit cannot exceed 25 people or be less than 10 individuals.
However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for the practice or competition, such as players, coaches and referees, exceeds 25 people, the event may proceed as long as no unnecessary individuals are present.
That includes spectators, who will only be permitted if the capacity limit is not exceeded based upon the number of participants involved.
The number of people at the practice or game still cannot exceed 25% of the capacity of the room or 150 individuals, whichever number is less.
Winter sports teams will be permitted to participate in one preseason scrimmage, preferably with a neighboring school. Schools, however, are encouraged to participate in intra-squad scrimmages.
Competition for all winter sports will be limited to two events per week, but each team will be granted two weeks where they can have as many as three games.
Each winter sports team will have no more than 15 competitions during the regular season. That includes all games played in regular season tournaments or other events.
All competition is currently limited to two teams only. Decisions on increasing the number of participating teams for events will not be made until the start of or during the regular season. This impacts holiday basketball tournaments, invitational events, and wrestling quad meets.
After the winter sports regular season concludes on Feb. 3, postseason competition will run from Feb. 5 through Feb. 17.
Depending on the sport, the postseason will be structured regionally based upon counties or NJSIAA sections in order to limit travel. Out-of-state competition is prohibited, unless a waiver is granted for a special circumstance.
The announcement by the NJSIAA comes just a day after Gov. Phil Murphy approved all indoor sports, that have been defined as medium or high risk for COVID-19 transmission, to resume contact practices and competitions across New Jersey.
These activities include basketball, hockey, cheerleading, dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling, according to the executive order signed by Murphy.
All facilities and participants must follow a number of health and safety protocols, such as COVID-19 screenings for all players, coaches, and staff, limits on equipment sharing, and requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing high-touch surfaces and equipment.