Expert Recommendations and Considerations for High School Athletics

Last modified: May 18, 2020
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Background and Purpose

Governing bodies of high school sports, working together with public health officials and institutions of higher education have an important role in protecting student-athletes, the student body, staff, faculty and fans to help ensure a safe and healthy athletic environment as they consider the return of high school sports-related activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the support of Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, and senior leadership at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), its Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine department established a multi-disciplinary panel of experts to develop return-to-sports recommendations. This should provide valuable insight and expertise as states, conferences and schools navigate this public health challenge. This committee was led by Wesley Cox, M.D., Assistant Professor, Chief of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at UAMS Northwest Regional Campus, and included:

UAMS Orthopaedics

Larry Balle, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Family Med/Orthopaedics (NWA)

C. Lowry Barnes, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Orthopaedic Surgery UAMS Musculoskeletal Service Line Director

Tyler Carlee, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery (NWA)

Michael Cassat, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Family Med/Orthopaedics

Kristin Garner, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Family Med/Orthopaedics

Michael Israel, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics/Orthopaedics (ACH)

Navin Kilambi, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Orthopaedics (NWA)

Lawrence O’Malley, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery

Brant Sachleben, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, (ACH)

Jack Vander Schilden, M.D.
Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery

Ramon Ylanan, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Family Med/Orthopaedics (NWA)

UAMS Internal Medicine

Michelle Krause, M.D.
Professor, Nephrology
UAMS Medical Specialties Service Line Director

Keyur Vyas, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases

John P. Mounsey, M.D.
Professor, Cardiology

UAMS Pathology

Jennifer Hunt, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Pathology

These recommendations are based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). They are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As more is learned about COVID-19, recommendations will be updated.

The governing bodies of high school athletics will provide specific guidelines for institutions as they create a plan for re-socialization. Team staff members and student-athletes should follow the guidelines set forth by their appropriate governing body and school.

Goal

Our goal is to provide recommendations reflective of medical best practices and keep the health and safety of student-athletes, administrators, coaches, staff and fans as the No. 1 priority. We must all work together to safely return to sports. At stake is the health of our student-athletes, our communities, our economy, our state and our nation. As soon as it is safe to do so we want athletics to resume. We must remain diligent in reducing the risk of infection as much as possible.

As coaches, administrators, trainers and support staff including physicians, it is our responsibility to appropriately educate our student-athletes. It is not their fault if they become ill, or seasons are cancelled. We must do our job of making sure we all understand the significant impact that a COVID-19 infection on an student-athlete will have.

Please contact your team/school’s medical team for additional recommendations. UAMS is available to provide additional guidance if needed.

We must be the example and hold ourselves and our teammates accountable for our actions. We must be the ultimate teammate and assign the health of our teammates as our No. 1 priority.

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Some of these documents have been developed based on current needs and experiences. UAMS is an entity of the state which may have different requirements under federal and state law than your hospital, doctors, and other providers. This information is provided as a public service in response to continuing questions from various community providers. All information is subject to change as our response to this pandemic challenge continues. Consult your practice or facility leadership before adopting any practices or protocols provided here.