The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) board of control has reviewed and reaffirmed the winter sports guidance recommendation requiring a 14-day quarantine period before student-athletes return to participation following close contact with anyone tested positive for COVID-19.

The board’s decision requires the 14-day quarantine period during the winter Tournament Series in 2020-’21. During the regular season, 14 days is the recommended standard, but local health departments have the final authority to determine the length of the quarantine after close contact with anyone tested positive with COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidance stating the quarantine period may be reduced to 10 days or seven days if conditions warrant. 

After confirming the plans of the CDC to release new guidance on the quarantine period with the Department of Health Services and the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee, the revised CDC guidance was provided to the WIAA membership of 514 senior high schools and 48 junior high/middle-level schools.

With further interpretation and additional clarification, the CDC conditions to reduce the length of quarantine included the need to adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, according to the WIAA.

Those mitigation standards require consistent mask use, social distancing and avoidance of gatherings for the full 14 days after exposure, which is improbable in athletic competition and only with extensive alterations in practice settings.

Meanwhile, the board conducted another review of the revised sports season calendar and a consideration to extend the wrestling season two weeks, but took no action. The revised calendar with a 13-week wrestling season was approved by the board in August.

High school athletes in this area and across the state have continued to compete in sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, often wearing masks while participating in practices and games — not an easy task. But they continue to compete for their schools, themselves, their families and sports fans because they love the game.

Hats off to the players, coaches, officials, scorekeepers and athletic directors who make it happen!

Stay safe and happy holidays.