Football Modifications


The MIAA Modifications and Guidelines are listed below with LHS Additional clarifying statements.
*Anything  * is an additional LHS clarification*

General Information

Every school district/program should consult with their local health department to determine which risk level to start this program safely. Continued consultation with the local health department should be used to determine when progression to the next risk level can be initiated.

This document is to be utilized in compliance with all EEA, DESE and DPH guideline in place. 

Playing sports come with inherent risks (twisted ankles to concussions). The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional risks to group activities/sports. The MIAA has developed these modifications to lower risks from COVID-19 using National and State guidelines and input from medical specialists. Playing any sport (even with modified play) will continue to carry some risk of acquiring COVID-19 but these modifications were developed to help guide schools in best practices to limit exposure while offering an opportunity for interscholastic athletics for those sports approved for EEA Level 3 participation. The Mass Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) categorizes sports as: “Lower Risk”, “Moderate Risk”, “Higher Risk”. These categories are based on how the sport is traditionally played. Additional information can be found on their website: EEA Youth and Amateur Sports Resources 

Mitigation of COVID-19 Spread: 

It is important to note that COVID-19 infection related to youth sports seems to spread from outside the field play. Coaches are encouraged to remind athletes about mitigation strategies including distancing and mask wearing. Athletes are encouraged to support the active cooperation of all students within the school community by adhering to social distancing and mask wearing in all settings.

Pre-Workout/Pre-Contest Screening:

Student-athletes and coaches may not attend practices or games if they are isolated for illness or quarantined for exposure to infection.

Prior to attending practices or games, athletes and coaches should check their temperature *All student-athletes and Coaches will be required to complete an online form through AT Genius to certify that they are in good health. Student-athletes who do not feel well should stay home from practice.*

If a student-athlete or a coaching staff member has a temperature of 100 degrees or above, they should not attend practices or games. Likewise if they have any other symptoms of COVID-19 infection (, they should not attend practices or games. Student-athletes and coaches who have symptoms of COVID19 infection should follow DPH guidance regarding isolation and testing.

For students with symptoms who test negative for COVID-19 infection, they may return to sport once they are approved to return to school (when afebrile for 24 hours and symptomatically improved).

Student-athletes and coaches who are diagnosed with COVID-19 infection should rest and avoid exercise for ten days from symptom onset. Procedures for return to activity/play should follow CDC, DPH, and local board of health guidelines (CDC link above). In addition, persons with COVID-19 infection need to receive written clearance from their health care provider and school administrator/designee to return to sport. Return to activity should be slow and graded. 

The links below are examples of Graduated Return to Play protocols. These examples are not required protocols mandated by the MIAA, rather resources for information, but can be mandated or required by your school district. 

British Journal of Sports Medicine Infographic 

MA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics 

Student-athletes, coaches, spectators, and any others associated with the athletic program who were exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine, including no participation in practices or games following exposure, and should follow all CDC, DPH, and local board of health protocols. Athletes and coaches should receive written clearance from their school administrator/designee to return to sport. 

Should a player be quarantined because of a COVID-19 designation, he/she must participate in a minimum of one practice before returning to interscholastic competition. Should a player being quarantined because of a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 the ATC/Athletic Director should consider a more extensive return-to-play protocol for the individual player(s). It is necessary for all athletes to complete all other state guidelines. 

COVID-19 Testing: 

Recent developments in COVID-19 testing have become more prevalent within the Commonwealth. For Higher Risk sports, the use of COVID-19 testing may help to support the continued participation throughout the entire season of play.

Cohorts and/or Participants:

A record *by the coach* should be kept of all individuals present at team activities i.e. – practices, practice cohorts, competitions, etc.

Weather Resources: 

Extreme caution should be exercised when making decisions to participate in athletics when temperatures may present challenges to athletes’ health and safety. The following links will help to offer information in planning for safe practice and play during extreme temperature conditions.  

MIAA Heat Modification Policy  

NATA: Environmental Cold Injuries  

NFHS: Participating in Cold Weather – Minimizing the Risk  

NFHS: Guidelines for Competition in the Cold 

Indoor Competition and Practice Capacity Limits

  • No more than 25 players on any indoor surface/playing area for team and group sports. This limit is for both competition and practice.

Social distancing:

  • Practice – Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible. This includes additional spacing between athletes while stretching, warming up, chatting, changing drills, etc. Athletes must maintain spacing, and there should be no congregating of athletes while running drills. Workouts should be conducted in ‘pods’ of athletes, with the same 5-10 athletes always working out together. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. Records should be kept *by the coach* of who is in each group, each day.
  • Locker Rooms *The LHS locker rooms will be closed and should not be entered by the LHS student-athletes*


Inside the building: the bathrooms open will be located in the hall of fame lobby – ONLY to be used as bathrooms, not a changing facility.


Outside the building: the bathrooms located at the concession stated will be open and ONLY to be used as a bathroom, not a changing facility.


When possible, students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower, clean clothing, and equipment at the end of every workout.


  • Benches – No benches should be used during practice or games. Players’ items should be separated as below for personal items, at least 6 feet apart. 


  • Playing Surface Access – Only essential personnel are permitted on the practice/competition field. These are defined as athletes, coaches, medical personnel/athletic trainers, and officials (competition). All others (i.e. managers, photographers, media, etc.) are considered non-essential personnel and are not to be on the field of play.


  • Personal Items – It is recommended that each athlete bring their own gym bag for personal items (see gym bag information below). All personal items should remain in the gym bag when not in use. Gym bags should be placed in a predetermined area 6 feet apart for the duration of practice.


  • Huddles – Social distancing (6 feet between individuals) must be maintained, as much as possible, and face coverings utilized when the coach is communicating with the entire team, or in smaller groups. Communicating with smaller groups is preferred.


  • Team Handshakes Athletes shall NOT exchange handshakes before, during or following practices and competitions. Some MIAA sport specific modifications suggest sportsmanship recognition practices which replace handshakes.


  • Spectators – Spectators must practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines. The number of spectators is determined in compliance with EEA, DESE and DPH guidelines.  * Currently, Ludlow Athletics allows home fans only limiting two guests per player for outdoor games and one guest per player for indoor games.  Athletics will continually assess the situation as the year progresses. Ludlow High School has partnered with the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) to live stream our games through their network. All contests played in the LHS gym and stadium will be streamed.  Families can purchase a monthly subscription of $10 or an annual subscription for $69.99 to watch the contests.*



  • *Transportation – See below



  • Media – All social distancing and hygiene guidelines for spectators must be followed by media members planning to attend games. Media members should contact host school administrators prior to arriving at games to plan appropriate entry and available workspace


Practice and Game Protocols:

  • Masks/Face Coverings – Athletes are required to wear cloth face coverings/masks per EEA guidelines. Face coverings consisting of multiple layers and a tighter weave are more effective and preferred.  *Masks will be required for all athletes. ATTENTION!! Ludlow Public Schools policy does not allow gaiters to be worn by home or visiting athletes. If an athlete/staff chooses to purchase a gaiter and wear it during competition or practice a face mask MUST be worn underneath.


  • Mask breaks may be taken for drinking, and when needed for breathing comfort. Mask breaks may only be taken when greater than 6 feet of distance can be maintained from all others. 


  • All athletes, especially those that use mouthpieces, should prepare to have extra face coverings available. If mouthguards are removed on the sidelines or bench area, the athlete should use hand sanitizer each time after touching the mouthguard. Athletes are reminded that mouthguards must remain inserted in the mouth at all times for those sports that require mouthguards.  


  • During play when spacing between players is greater than 10 ft athletes may momentarily take brief face covering relief. The default expectation is that the mask will be on. Athletes should reference sport specific guidelines for mask break. Athletes that use mouthpieces should prepare to have extra face coverings available. Caution should be exercised when replacing a mask if hands are soiled or dirty. For individuals that are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability. (Coach must possess the medical note/documentation excusing the player from wearing a mask) *LHS will also require that doctor’s note to be on file with the HS nurse and athletic trainer*


  • It is the responsibility of the head coach to monitor and ensure that all players not on the playing field are wearing face coverings. A game administrator, home athletic director, or other designee may also assist in monitoring this.


  • Coaches and officials are also required to wear face coverings. Coaches and officials may remove their face covering briefly for a “break” at any point during play when they are socially distanced greater than 6 feet. Spectators, workers, and others are required to wear face coverings and they are expected to follow social distancing guidelines.


  • Player habits – Coaches should work to break old habits and create new ones to minimize the spread of the virus. Spitting, nose clearing on the field, licking fingers, and spitting on gloves during practices and competitions is not permitted. The habit of minimizing any touching of the face and covering the cough should be practiced.

Given that indoor conditions and ventilation/airflow impact the playing of indoor sports, it is recommended that indoor participants and all in attendance work to refrain from active yelling due to the increased opportunity for increased droplet transmission. Coaches and game administrators are encouraged to monitor this and remind participants to eliminate any unnecessary shouting.


  • Interaction with Officials – Coaches must follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet between individuals) when interacting with an official or any other individual. Conversations can occur at a distance. Athletes should not approach a referee closer than 6 feet at any time.


  • Hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes – Athletes, coaches, and officials are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and/or sanitizing wipes and use them frequently – including prior to taking the field and upon return to the sideline. Additionally, it is emphasized to avoid touching the face throughout practice and competition. *LHS athletes should bring their own individual hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes each day to practice.  Each LHS athlete will be provided with a small bottle of hand sanitizer at the beginning of the season.  Additionally the LHS coach will be provided with a “sanitizing bag” the bag will contain hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and gloves.*   


  • To ensure group separation, opposing teams must be spaced at least 14 feet apart while sharing the field.


  • Pre-Game Introductions and Preparation – If pre-game meetings are necessary, they should be held with limited team representation – a single coach, single captain, etc. At the pregame meeting all participants will be required to wear face coverings and to socially distance from all participants


If a school chooses to do introductions, players will take their position on the court prior to being introduced. Introductions are suggested to be limited or eliminated to decrease time of athletes on the competition surface. The National Anthem may be played before competition. *At LHS PA introductions will only be eliminated if there is a time constraint with the game (Back to Back Games)*


Indoor musical performances at interscholastic athletic events are not permitted.


  • Ball Retrievers – Ball retrievers for any sport ARE NOT permitted. See sport specific modifications for extra ball placement procedures.


  • Post-Game Procedures – Refer to Team Handshakes in this guidance. Recognition of the other team, coaches and/or officials should be done from a distance greater than 6 feet and should not delay departure from the competition venue. Teams and group of players should maintain social distancing and/or staggering departure times at the conclusion of the contest.



  • General Equipment – There should be no shared athletic equipment unless required by the sport rules – ie., one basketball is used during competition and must be used by all players. Any equipment that is used for practice should be cleaned and disinfected prior to and immediately following practice. Only one individual should handle the set-up and break-down of equipment on any given day (i.e. goals, cones, etc.).
  • Balls – Each player should bring their own ball or use the same school-issued ball during practice. Skill training, conditioning, agility, etc. can be done with the one player/one ball concept. Balls must be sanitized before and after each practice/game. Sport specific modifications also list other ball cleaning practices during competition. *LHS coaches will be provided with sanitizing wipes/spray to disinfect equipment*


  • Personal Items – Shoes, clothing, towels, and other personal items must not be shared among athletes. Any items that are not currently being worn/used should be stored inside a personal gym bag. Gym bags should be placed in a predetermined area 6 feet apart for the duration of practice/competition.



  • All students must bring their own water bottle. Water bottles cannot be shared.


  • Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should NOT be utilized.



  • *At LHS a water refill station will be located near the athletic trainer’s area and should only be used for refilling water bottles.  Athletes should bring an abundance of personal water and the refill station should only be used in rare occurrences*.




  • Water fountains are to be used as refill stations ONLY  



COVID-19 Coach/Site Supervisor: 

  • Schools must designate a coach/site supervisor to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and supervising adherence to established COVID-19 protocols


  • All coaches, staff, officials, and families should know who this person is and how to contact them. 


  • All athletic director’s/designee must follow established EEA guidelines for program and/or game management.


  • Train coaches, officials, and staff on all safety protocols. Conduct training virtually and ensure that social distancing is maintained during training. (NFHS COVID-19 FREE Course)


  • Coaches, athletes, officials, and spectators are required to cooperate with the local board of health whenever requested.


Gym Bag: (Supplies recommended for a personal gym bag)

  • Reusable facial covering(s)/mask(s) – The mask/face covering must be worn at all times. Sport specific modification may have further guidance for face coverings.
  • Warm-up clothing, electronic devices, and other personal items that are used by the athlete, prior to practice/competition, must be placed back in the gym bag before practice/competition begins.
  • Athletes are recommended to always have a personal bottle of hand sanitizer available. There will be less chance of possible cross contamination and less time standing around waiting to use a shared hand sanitizer. Be sure to have this inside a sealable bag, in case it leaks. This will be used when you enter and exit the practice/competition site, and at other necessary times in between.
  • Athletes are recommended to have disinfectant wipes for personal use. When using a restroom area, it is best to disinfect any surface that may be touched, before and after using the facilities.
  • Athletic braces, tape, inhalers, or any other sports-medical item used before, during or after practice/meets should be stored in a personal gym bag when not in use.
  • Additional shoes should also be stored in a separate compartment or bag inside a gym bag to prevent possible cross contamination with other items in the gym bag.
  • Any other item that is deemed necessary for practice or competition must be stored in the gym bag when it is not being used
  • Everything inside the gym bag must be disinfected after every practice and before the athlete returns to practice again. Be sure to spray the inside and the outside of the bag as well. This is for everyone’s protection.



Core health and safety practices 


Several core practices will support safe school bus operations this fall:


  • Masks

All staff and students on the bus, regardless of age, are required to wear masks at all times. Exemptions for students due to medical and/or behavioral reasons – and associated protocols – are further described later in this guidance.


  • Distance


Students should be seated no more than one student per bench, alternating sides for each row, which allows students to maintain approximately 3 feet of physical distance. Children from the same household may sit together and in closer proximity (e.g., two students per bench). Diagrams are provided later in this guidance.

  • Ventilation

Keep windows open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions.

  • Seat assignments

Students should be assigned to a single bus and a particular seat. 


  • Bus monitors


Districts should consider adding a bus monitor (e.g., volunteer, student leader, or staff member) for every bus to ensure strict adherence to these health and safety guidelines. 


Bus seating configuration 


In alignment with the Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance, the following bus configuration (i.e., one student per bench, alternating sides for each row) represents the maximum* school bus occupancy achievable while maintaining approximately 3 feet of physical distance. 


*Note: Children from the same household may sit together and are excluded from the one student per bench requirement.  


Bus Model: 71-passenger bus

Max. capacity with physical distancing requirements: 23 passengers (32% full capacity)

Seat map configuration:


Bus model Maximum occupancy (excluding students who could sit together from same household) Percentage of full bus capacity
83-passenger bus 27 passengers 33%
77-passenger bus 25 passengers 32%
71-passenger bus 23 passengers 32%
47-passenger bus 15 passengers 32%
29-passenger bus 9 passengers 31%
26-passenger bus 8 passengers 31%
22-passenger bus 7 passengers 32%
14-passenger bus 6 passengers 43%


Football Specific Modifications

Competition/Game Management

  • Facial coverings worn at all times during play and on sidelines; Tube style “gaiters” are not permitted. Balaclava style face coverings that are multilayered and are extended over the full head are permitted.
  • “Splash guards” are acceptable in addition to face masks
  • No pregame/postgame handshakes
  • Team rosters for game day competition on the field cannot exceed 45 players

and a maximum of 6 coaches. Teams are required to delineate with a physical

marker (cone, spray paint etc.) the social distancing requirements (6 ft) for their

players and coaches while on the sideline area.

  • In order to limit the total number of people in proximity to the field of play, game

day personnel with an assigned responsibility are the only people permitted on

the sidelines.

  • Teams must work to reduce the number of players on the sideline. Injured players with no ability to play in a contest are not permitted on the sidelines. Dressed players should be those with a potential opportunity or need to play.Coaches must not have players in uniform on the sideline for the sole benefit of dressing and being with the team.
  • It is recommended that swing players should be limited when possible.
  • Team Box: The Team Box for players ONLY is expanded to the 10 Yard Lines. 

Players must maintain proper social distancing of 6ft while on the sideline

  • Chains, pylons, and other field equipment should be sanitized after

setup/before the contest and after the contest is over

  • Each team is responsible for their own:

○ Sanitizer

○ Face coverings

○ Towels, water, ice, med kit, footballs

  • According to EEA guidelines, no more than 25 players or participants can be on

one half of the playing field at any one time. Teams that have more than 25

players can still allow additional players to wait on the sidelines or bleachers to

substitute for players on the field. To ensure group separation, opposing teams

must be spaced at least 14 feet apart while sharing the field.


Coin Toss/pregame/overtime

○ Limit attendees for the player/officials’ conference

■ Ref, 1 umpire, 1 player from each team

■ All conferences will be held at midfield with 6ft social distance

between participants


○ Spacing between players and facing the same direction

■ Consider hand signals/signage from sideline (wristbands)

■ Eliminate hand holding in huddles/during the anthem

■ Limit close contact and/or huddles when possible


Spectator limitations

○ Based upon current EEA/state guidelines for large crowd gatherings



  • Mandatory water breaks at the halfway point of each quarter signaled by the

referee at first change of possession after the 6:00 mark in the quarter.

  • Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should NOT

be utilized. If water coolers or other large volume water container is utilized, it

can only be accessed by a “designated” refill person.

  • Team Time-outs are extended to 2 minutes.
  • The intermission between periods (first/second and third/fourth) as well as the

time period following a try, successful field goal or safety and prior to the

a succeeding free kick will also be extended to a maximum of two minutes.

  • Authorized team time-out conferences will take place near the bottom of the

field numbers between the 25 Yard Lines.

  • To allow for 6’ social distancing for all game officials, the coaches’ area

minimum of 2-yard belt between the front of team box and the sideline becomes

a restricted area when the ball is live. No player, non-player, or coach shall be in

the restricted area when the ball is live. First offense warning, second 5-yard

penalty and subsequent violations result in a 15-yard penalty.

  • Clock operators and all personnel in the press box must maintain 6’ social

distancing from all other personnel as well as wear face coverings at all times.

  • Halftime is 10 minutes. Teams will be assigned an area to gather outside of

locker room based upon EEA guidelines.


Game Officials

  • Positioning can be altered to maintain social distancing (i.e. line judges)
  • Officials shall use alternative whistles such as electronic whistles; air horns are


  • Water: Officials will need to bring their own water containers to the game.
  • The Mechanics for a U will be working the CJ Position with a Crew of 5 Officials

this year.

  • When possible, schools should provide a designated area for officials to prepare

and use restroom facilities before the game, break during halftime and at the

end of the game.



  • No football team activities may take play indoors. Team planning should

consider innovative coaching methods, with zoom meetings and film sessions in

lieu of group/in-person meetings.

  • Overall recommendations:

o Athletes will follow school protocols for daily reporting of symptoms/illness

  • Before/After Practice:

o Athletes will maintain social distancing on the sidelines (min. 6 feet apart)

o Each athlete will have a designated area for their bag/water/personal belongings

o Coaches must maintain social distancing when addressing the team (avoiding close huddles, etc.)

o Athletes must bring their own water, masks, personal sanitizing materials

(no sharing between athletes)

o Avoid group contact among teammates (high fives, group huddles, etc.)


  • During practice:

o A coach may only conduct full contact drills up to 30 minutes per week (45 minutes during a week without a scheduled game). The intent of this rule is to limit full contact participation of each student to 30 minutes during a week of practice (45 minutes during a week without a scheduled game). During this time, full contact is allowed in no more than 2 practices per week, no more than 15 minutes per day, and consideration should also be given to limiting full contact on consecutive days

o According to EEA guidelines, no more than 25 players or participants can be on one half of the playing field at any one time. Teams that have more than 25 players can still allow additional players to wait on the sidelines or bleachers to substitute for players on the field. To ensure group separation, opposing teams must be spaced at least 14 feet apart while sharing the field.


  • Drill work with Footballs:

o As per the EEA guidelines, all equipment (blocking pads, footballs, etc.) must be disinfected at the end of each practice.

o Limit contact drills (tackling, blocking, etc.)

o Modify group size – work with smaller groups where possible

  • Practice or team activities indoors:

o Football  may conduct Level 1 play indoors

o Level 1 play is defined: Individuals or socially distanced group activities (non-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills


Additional School Considerations

  • Predetermine area for shelter in case of inclement weather

○ Recommend a space for players/coaches/officials where social distancing can still take place

  • Assign a ball sanitizing person(s) for each team when possible
  • Establish seat markings in the bleachers for spectators to maintain social


  • Maintain a record of all individuals present at team activities
  • Home team is responsible for sanitizing and preparing all facilities and equipment


Coaches Safety Checklist for Sports Participation during COVID-19



🗹Ensure each athlete has an updated physical before participating.

🗹 Ensure each athlete has taken the baseline concussion test.



🗹 Coaches and players must conduct daily symptom assessments via AT Genius. 

Using LHSlions as a sign in code

🗹Coaches must check that each athlete has taken the daily symptom assessments and everyone is cleared to practice.

🗹Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer before arriving.

🗹Avoid gathering in large groups before practice, maintain physical distance and wear a face mask (abiding by Ludlow Public Schools face mask policy).

🗹Sanitize all equipment prior to and after each session.

🗹Ensure that the bus is properly set up for transportation (see transportation guidelines).



🗹Whenever possible, maintain 6-8 feet of physical distance during drills and conditioning.

🗹No team water coolers or shared drinking stations. Athletes should bring individual water containers.

🗹Avoid these behaviors – players and coaches should refrain from: 

  • Huddles, high fives, fist bumps, handshakes, and other physical contact with teammates, opposing players, coaches, umpires and fans. 
  • Sharing food or drink with teammates.
  • Players should refrain from spitting or blowing nose without tissue.

🗹Coaches and athletes should wear face coverings at all times while not actively participating in the field of play.

🗹Coaches need to divide athletes into cohorts, with the same cohorts practicing together at every practice. A list should be kept of these specific cohorts.

🗹Equipment and personal items should have proper separation and should not be shared. 

🗹Maintain a complete list of coaches, players and staff present including name, date, and beginning and ending time of the event. 

🗹Avoid the use of pinnies. 

🗹Use individual drills and warm-ups as much as possible.



🗹Make sure athletes are not congregating after practice – they should be leaving immediately. 

🗹Sanitize or wash hands

🗹Wash face mask

🗹Clean personal sports equipment

AT Genius Instructions

For Coaches / Staff


  1. Go to
  2. New to AT Genius?
  3. Click Sign Up Here
  4. School Code: LHSlions
    1. Should read:
      1. School → Ludlow High School
      2. Athletic Trainer → Ashley Mourao
    2. Click select (if you see above information)
  5. Enter First Name, Last Name, E-mail
  6. Set-up account


Any Questions/problems please contact Ashley Mourao @

AT Genius Instructions

For Student / Athletes


  1. Go to
  2. Click Student / Athlete portal
  3. Click NEW Student / Athletes (if you signed up during the fall or winter sports season – you DO NOT need to make a new account – use the same one from the Fall! – just PLEASE change your sport to the sport you are currently playing)
  4. School Code: LHSlions
    1. Should read:
      1. School → Ludlow High School
      2. Athletic Trainer → Ashley Mourao
    2. Click select (if you see above information)
  5. Make Profile
  6. Take COVID-19 Screening DAILY
  7. Show results to Coach when arriving to practice


Any Questions/problems please contact Ashley Mourao @