When it comes to the return of high-school sports in Washington, phases are out and statistical benchmarks are in.

Following the Governors office and the Department of Health releasing new guidelines for the return of “education-based sports and activities,” the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association updated its guidelines to return to play Tuesday.

A school’s ability to return to play will be based on the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents along with the percentage of positive tests. Previously, the WIAA had tied the return to play to which phase of the state’s Safe Start plan.

Under these new guidelines, three tiers will decide how much activity is allowed.

  • High risk (75 cases per 100,000 over 14 days, greater than 5% positive tests) counties can begin practices in small groups. Competitions for low-risk sports (cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field) can begin with no spectators.
  • Medium risk (25-75 cases, less than 5%) allows competition for low and medium-risk (baseball, bowling, gymnastics, soccer, softball and volleyball) sports and one parent/guardian are allowed for each student-participant in uniform.
  • Low (less than 25 cases, less than 5%) allows competition for high-risk sports (basketball, football, wrestling, cheer and dance), allows tournaments and spectators (in accordance with the Safe Start plan)

King County reported 53.9 cases per 100,000 the previous two weeks, according to the state’s COVID dashboard website. King County has seen less than 2% percent of its tests return positive.

The WIAA said in a release that the Governor’s office said “neither schools nor community sports programs have the authority to implement more lenient policies.”

In July, the WIAA reorganized the sports year. The traditional winter sports season begins with practices on Dec. 28. Football and the other fall sports were moved into a new season wedged between winter and fall sports. Football can begin practice on Feb. 17. The traditional spring sports season begins April 26.

The WIAA also updated specifics for each sport. You can read those here.