Kentucky Board of Education's Letter to KHSAA Board of Control, August, 31, 2020

Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) Chair Lu Young sent a letter to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s (KHSAA) Board of Control Aug. 31, urging the 18-member committee to meet and consider expanding COVID-19 guidance for student athletes.

The letter details the Aug. 28 KBE special meeting, where board members heard from KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett, Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack and several superintendents about restarting fall sports, including high-contact sports.

The KHSAA Board of Control voted on Aug. 20 to allow fall sports practice to begin on Aug. 24 and for games to start on Sept. 7, upholding a tentative decision from July.

During the Aug. 28 meeting, the KBE voted unanimously to send the Board of Control a letter urging them to consider alternative options, guidance and further clarification on holding high-contact fall sports amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, the KBE urges the Board of Control to meet immediately and consider actions to:

  • Develop new guidance for school districts on the responsibility and authority to enforce the protocols set forth in the recent KSHAA guidance document.
  • Anticipate and clarify how KHSAA guidance is likely to evolve and put forth clear and actionable guidance on how KHSAA will respond to a spike in cases at the school, district, regional and/or statewide level.
  • Provide immediate guidance to school districts and coaches on spectator attendance at practice and competition.
  • Develop clear guidance to school districts and coaches on how to best provide resources and mental health supports to student athletes who are unable to play due to parent choice, COVID-19 quarantine, program suspension due to COVID-19 or other reasons.
  • Require that the risks of COVID-19 are disclosed to families and students in a manner that is easily understood, along with recommended steps for student “return to sports” following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • Take steps, including but not limited to instructing KHSAA to work with KDE and the Department for Public Health, to develop model COVID-19 testing protocols for student-athletes and coaches that could be replicated across the state.
  • Adopt a regular reporting schedule for the Board of Control and the KBE/KDE to receive written reports, not less than bi-weekly, from the KHSAA that summarizes COVID-related issues KHSAA is dealing with (by sport, district and school) and how concerns are addressed as they arise.

The KHSAA is an agent of the KBE and manages interscholastic athletics.