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Gov. Lee signs executive order allowing school sports

Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order July 31 allowing contact sports to resume and extending local authority to require masks, among other provisions.

“Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee. “We have worked directly with the TSSAA to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff and fans safe.”

After signing the new order, Number 55, teams can now make contact during practice in football and girls’ soccer. Other fall sports, including golf, cross country, and volleyball were not affected by the State of Emergency Order that had prohibited contact sports.

“We appreciate being able to work with Gov. Lee and his staff on this,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “I am pleased that we were able to develop some very specific guidelines for every sport that will allow our kids to get out on their fields and fully participate in football and girls’ soccer this fall.”

TSSAA officials said that although contact practice is now permissible, the regulations and requirements for practice and competition adopted by the Board of Control at their July 22 meeting are still in place for all sports and must be followed.

“Children across the state are counting on us–school administrators and coaches–to proceed with practices and competitions safely while being very mindful of the requirements and modifications that we have put in place,” Childress added. “Our return to play is a partnership, and it’s important for everyone to do their part.”

Executive Order Number 55 also extends local authority to issue facial coverings through Aug. 29 and strongly encourages schools to adopt policies regarding face coverings. The Wilson County School Board voted on Monday night to require masks and facial coverings in its schools.

“This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies,” he continued. “Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods.”

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