The Missouri State High School Activities Association finally added some relief to coaches and student-athletes during the summer.

With the spring season canceled entirely due to COVID-19, the MSHSAA board of directors recently voted to grant relief between coaches and student-athletes but only upon approval from local and state health officials.

The board also took action to allow seniors to be viewed as enrolled students through the summer, which allows them to represent their high schools in summertime interscholastic competition.

Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles said to him there is really no decision.

“We can opt out of a dead period if we don't have a dead period,” Shikles said. “If seniors want to participate in summer activities they still can such as summer camps, but I will know a little bit more in the next few days. I haven’t really talked to anybody about it yet, so I will need some clarification on some things.”

Shikles added that again everything is based upon the recommendations from the health department at the state and local level. He said those are just going to be options if they can go back to summer school and summer activities.

“If our summer is shortened we can do away with the dead period,” Shikles said. “I think it will be ongoing with what we can do and what we can't do. We still have to follow their guidelines before we do anything. To me summer activities are still a wait and see issue. I think MSHSAA was just being proactive in the case that we are able to do some things this summer.”

Pilot Grove Athletic Director Derek Skaggs said the CAC Conference has talked about some scenarios but it is still very soon to tell what they will be able to make of it if any.

“There would still have to many different moving pieces to coordinate anything,” Skaggs said. “It is still contingent on our Governor and each school administration and city bans lifted.

So what does this all actually mean?

The dead period during the summer for one week in July will now be optional for the summer of 2020.

Previously, MSHSAA By-Law 1.5 required member schools to establish a period of nine consecutive days beginning on a Saturday and lasting to the second following Sunday, in which no contact takes place between school coaches/directors of MSHSAA-sponsored activities and students enrolled in the member school, or who will be enrolled in the member school during the next school year.

However with the decision last week by the board of directors, a school may choose to comply with this “dead period” or to allow teams to hold activities.

In the announcement sent out by MSHSAA, this decision also relieves portions of By-Law 3.15.3 and 3.15.4, which limits teams to 20 days of contact during the summer. Member schools may allow teams to have more than 20 days of contact in which any coaching or instruction in the skills and techniques of any sport takes place.

“The abrupt changes that took place to our normal system of education this spring, have our schools pleading for access to students this summer,” said MSHSAA Executive Director Dr. Kerwin Urhahn. “The membership asked about what possible flexibility and modifications to by-law restrictions that could be offered. If there is no local, state, or national clearance for safe contact with students, then any allowances dealing with summer will be moot. But, in an effort to be prepared for what we hope is possible, this action was taken to grant some relief for the member schools.”

As for summertime activities, seniors can now be viewed as enrolled students through the summer, which allows them to represent their high schools in summertime interscholastic competition. This relief of By-Law 3.15 is designed for this summer only.

“Hopefully, this will allow schools to play contests against other schools to provide closure and recognition for students and allow teams and kids to play together this summer,” said Urhahn.

The announcement also read at this point that no action was taken to alter any other sections of By-Law 3.15, or the fall no contact period (3.15.1.b) that is scheduled to take place between August 3, 2020 and August 9, 2020.

It was stated that all summertime activities remain optional for students, attendance or participation could not be required.

“The first thing that needs to be clearly understood is that all decisions about anything summer-related – be it contact, access, practice, games, conditioning, etc. - must first be approved, cleared and deemed safe by the CDC, State and Local Health Departments, the Governor, and local Mayors” Urhahn concluded. “The end of social distancing and ‘safe at home’ is still not clearly visible yet, and summer activities may not be possible due to the covid-19 pandemic and its own timeline.”