Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 74 on Tuesday, which extends COVID-19 safety restrictions at school-sponsored sporting events.
The order says that schools can host sporting events, but requires that they follow guidelines from the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Non-school-sponsored athletics events, such as practices, must also follow guidelines from either the Tennessee Pledge or from TSSAA.
Only specific people can attend practices, games or competitions, according to TSSAA's guidelines. They are listed below:
- Student-athletes who are members of the practicing or competing team
- Coaching and team personnel
- Athletic officials
- Game, school, and facility administrators
- Parents, guardians, and other immediate household members of athletes practicing or competing at the venue on that date
- Media and athletic scouting personnel attending the event in a professional capacity
- First responders
Other provisions, like the gathering limit at school-sporting events, are set to expire Tuesday.
"Tennesseans have done what we've asked them to do over the holidays, and we're seeing our numbers trend in the right direction because of it," Lee said.
The executive order also encourages places of worship to continue utilizing virtual or online services, instead of in-person services. They are encouraged to follow the Guidance for Gathering Together in Houses of Worship guidelines issued by the Governor's Office.
It also encourages Tennesseans to continue working from home where possible. Businesses and employers are urged to take steps to equip, encourage and allow employees to work remotely.
The restrictions were originally set to expire on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Now, they are set to expire on Feb. 27.
The TSSAA in its response emphasized that these, along with their other policies are minimum requirements.
In its press release, the TSSAA gave information regarding cheerleaders and dance teams.
"TSSAA inquired about allowing Cheerleaders and Dance Teams to participate, but the amended Order maintains the temporary suspension of cheerleading and dance at contests. Our understanding from the Governor’s Office is that this provision was a risk-based decision at this critical time based on the best medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of COVID-19 primarily through respiratory droplets, with cheerleading posing a particularly high degree of risk because it involves projected voices within a confined indoor space for an extended period of time."