Coronavirus Response & Resources

One-Act Theatre Season 2020

The WHSFA is monitoring the evolving situation with COVID-19, and working in concert with state and local health agencies, as well as the DPI, WIAA, NFHS, and other similar organizations. For the fall 2020 one-act theatre season, the Board of Control has committed to determining by mid-August: if and how adjudication of one-act plays will happen. A variety of factors and options will be weighed. In the meanwhile, directors are encouraged to select versatile material that may allow for physical distancing on stage and/or virtual performance, and should consult with publishers regarding copyright permissions for online streaming.

2020-21 Winter-Spring Season

The WHSFA is monitoring the evolving situation with COVID-19, and working in concert with state and local health agencies, as well as the DPI, WIAA, NFHS, and similar organizations. For the winter-spring 2020-21 Middle Level and Speech seasons, the WHSFA plans to determine by early November 2020 the extent to which interscholastic contests might still happen in early 2021. A variety of factors and options will be weighed. For group categories, coaches are encouraged to select versatile material that may allow for physical distancing and/or virtual performance.

 Advice to Coaches

  • Check with your bus company ahead of a festival to confirm travel arrangements (individual bus companies can often make decisions irrespective of school districts, regarding weather and other challenges).
  • If you’ve booked a hotel, check on their cancellation policy, so you can do so, if necessary, within the required time period.
  • If you plan other activities in conjunction with attending a festival (i.e., dining out or shopping), discuss your itinerary with your school administrators, and make sure they’re okay with it, and that it’s safe for your students.

 Advice to Coaches

  • Check with your bus company ahead of a festival to confirm travel arrangements (individual bus companies can often make decisions irrespective of school districts, regarding weather and other challenges).
  • If you’ve booked a hotel, check on their cancellation policy, so you can do so, if necessary, within the required time period.
  • If you plan other activities in conjunction with attending a festival (i.e., dining out or shopping), discuss your itinerary with your school administrators, and make sure they’re okay with it, and that it’s safe for your students.

COVID-19 Pandemic & Virtual Festival FAQs

Can alternate/mini Speech festivals or make-ups be held to adjudicate students?
Unfortunately, not for the official state qualification speech series. The sheer magnitude of 300+ schools, 4,000+ students, and limited time within the last few months of the school year, plus uncertainty regarding trajectory of the virus, cancellation of instructional time, potential extension of the school year, AP/IB exams, etc., makes it near impossible to coordinate a fair and equitable approach to finding an alternative solution.
Is this really the end of the Speech season?

We understand you've invested time, energy, and emotion in developing and practicing this season. It doesn't necessarily have to be. WHSFA is organizing a virtual open festival in place of the official qualification speech series.

Plus, while evaluation in an interscholastic setting that allows students to strive to advance and earn awards is a motivating factor for participation, we should celebrate the important messages students share through their presentations -- whether it's raising our awareness of an important issue, creatively exploring an aspect of the human condition, or entertaining us creatively. Once schools reopen, and it is safe to do so, schools can organize a "showcase" for a public audience or "museum walk" of stations where students perform to smaller groups. Coaches also can document speeches on video to create an in-house archive of student work (though please be mindful of copyright law when it comes to performing literature, and obtain media releases for minors).

 Previous Updates

Previous Updates

March 10: The WHSFA is monitoring the situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) as it develops, and working in concert with state and local health agencies, as well as the DPI, WIAA, and other similar organizations. As we get closer to the State Festival, we will make a definitive decision regarding that event, bearing in mind that the health and safety of participants is our top priority. Individual schools and families ultimately make decisions regarding their students’ ongoing participation in interscholastic contests. We have prepared a flyer with recommendations for healthy practices at festivals (see first button to the right).

Update-March 11: UW-Madison has suspended all face-to-face classes on campus, and any gatherings of more than 50 people through at least April 10. WHSFA is in ongoing communication with campus officials regarding the State Speech Festival.

Update-March 12: Effective immediately, all festivals are closed to outside guests (i.e., family, friends, etc.). Only contestants and adjudicators will be allowed in contest rooms. Coaches should instruct their students to tell families to not come to the festival, and if families do show up, coaches should not tell families the location of their students. At your festival, please ask adjudicators to assist with enforcing this: they should take attendance for contestants, and any individuals in the room who are not contestants (or a school-sanctioned aide for a student with special needs) should be asked to leave; otherwise, the adjudicator should not begin the round, and should call or report to the tab room. This measure is to minimize the number of people in any given room – as well as in buildings, overall – as well as to protect older individuals and those who are immunocompromised.

Update: April 6: WHSFA is offering a virtual festival in late April, in which coaches or students’ parents may enter contestants in solo/individual categories. WHSFA cancelled its official Speech festival series (district and State) March 12, 2020, for the remainder of the season in accordance with Gov. Tony Evers’ declared public health emergency. With limited time between now and the end of the school year, there are no reasonable means to plan and execute an alternate timeline for festival dates or locations. Several other states have cancelled their State Speech contests, so this is, indeed, an extraordinary situation.