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        Beyond The Ball — coronavirus

        GHSA board tabs June 8 for athletes' return; Hall County, GHS 'ready to go'

        GHSA board tabs June 8 for athletes' return; Hall County, GHS 'ready to go'

        By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

        THOMASTON — The Georgia High School Association will begin allowing workouts and training with restrictions by its member schools in an effort to begin preparation for a possible return to sporting events in the fall.

        The organization made its recommendation Thursday during its board of trustees meeting. The original date suggested by GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines was June 1, but the BOT decided that the date was too soon. The board agreed to push it out a week to June 8 which will allow the state’s more than 400 schools more time to prepare before they bring back the student-athletes to begin conditioning.

        "We thought June 1 from the get-go was the date we wanted," said Hines in response to the board. "We were going to look at Gov. Brian Kemp's guidance, what the medical professionals were telling us and that's what we did. If we want to go to June 8, then I will change the date to June 8 and put it out there."

        "It's been a lot of work, and we've been working on this for quite some time now." 

        June 8 does give the state's coaches and athletes some light at the end of the tunnel. It also shows the GHSA is working toward what they hope is a start to the fall season at their long-standing traditional dates.

        Currently, July 27 is slated to be the first official start date for any Georgia schools for the 2020-21 academic year. The GHSA suspended all activities in March in its response to try and help fight the COVID-19 virus and schools around the state have been in limbo since as to when they could begin preparations for the upcoming school year.

        Executive board member and Forsyth County Director of Athletics Nathan Turner said he appreciates the board of trustees and agrees with the decision. 

        "Everyone wants the best for the students, but we need to make sure we do everything right within the guidelines and with the guidance of the GHSA," Turner said. 

        The GHSA’s announcement could be in coordination with the governor’s office, which is expected to release updated guidelines as the state continues to open up more businesses. Gov. Brian Kemp is set to update just where the state stands and release new guidelines at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

        Here are the guidelines for returning to conditioning on June 8, 2020:

        -- All summer work is voluntary
        -- Schools/School systems may be more restrictive than the GHSA but not less
        -- Workouts are conditioning only, no balls or sport-specific equipment
        -- Member schools should prepare and infectious disease prevention plan prior to staff and athletes returning to conditioning.
        -- It is recommended that staff and athletes are screened prior to each workout 
        -- Signage should be posted on-site with the following:

        • Do you or have you had a fever in the last week?
        • Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
        • Have you been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19?
        • Have you traveled to a hot spot for COVID-19?

        -- Groups of 20, including coaches, for workouts per sport at any given time at campus or facility.
        -- Groups should be the same individuals, including coaches, for each session to limit risk of exposure. Students or coaches CANNOT change groups for the duration of this guidance.
        -- No use of locker rooms or shower facilities. Students should report to the facility dressed to condition and shower at home.
        -- Weight equipment should be cleaned prior to each workout and sanitized between use by each student.
        -- Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and readily available.
        -- Each student should have their own personal water bottle. No use of water fountains or "water cows" is allowed.
        -- Side spots only in the weight training, safety bars are preferred.
        -- Social distancing should be adhered to always and masks/face covering are recommended for the weight room.
        -- At least 15 minutes should be scheduled between groups to allow for disinfecting the facility.
        -- There is no competition allowed between schools.
        -- No visitors are allowed at conditioning sessions.

        One of the key provisions is that systems can be MORE RESTRICTIVE but not less than what the GHSA has stated. Gainesville Athletic Director Adam Lindsey said they have been prepared but will have a few more restrictions at the outset.

        "We were ready for the June 1 date so we're ready to go," Lindsey said. "But we have a three-phase plan that for now is a little more restrictve than what the GHSA has. Phase 1 for us will be a coach and 9 players with all the activities outside. We're not sure how long we will be in this phase but we're going to monitor the kids for at least a week, maybe more, and then take a look at things.

        "We're still working on Phase 2, which would be moving things inside. Phase 3 is us being back to normal by July 6, which is after the Dead Week. The phases we have in place are designed to get our kids back into shape and to be ready for July 6."

        Stan Lewis, Director of Community Relations and Athletics for Hall County, said they will be meeting next week to finalize plans.

        "It is our intent to begin on June 8 but right now I don't know if we'll be more restrictive than what has been put out there," Lewis said. "We're getting with all the high school and middle scholls ADs to look at the guidelines and discuss the restrictions put in place. I feel confident that we'll be having some kind of activity on June 8."

        NCAA approves athletic activities to resume in three sports

        NCAA approves athletic activities to resume in three sports

        Original Article from Riley Gates via 247sports.com

        College sports might not officially be back, but they seem to be a little bit closer to a return every day. And on Wednesday afternoon, the thought of sports being back full-time became even more of a reality.

        According to Yahoo! Sports reporter Pete Thamel, the NCAA Division I Council voted to approve voluntary athletic activities in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball beginning on June 1 and going through June 30. The rest of the sports will be acted on at a later date, which is expected to be next week, according to Thamel. In addition to that, college football reporter Nicole Auerbach reported that a waiver allowing eight hours of virtual activities per week will continue through June 30, too.

        Prior to this announcement, there had been a moratorium from the NCAA on all sports through May because of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of that, the future of fall sports — specifically college football — looked to be in danger. But some schools are to the point where they believe they can't continue to fear the coronavirus.

        "We need to learn to dance with the pandemic rather than being fearful of it," West Virginia president Gordon Gee said, according to CBS. "We have moved from 'The Hammer,' which I call where we just locked everything down, to what I call 'The Dance.'"

        Getting student-athletes back on college campuses is the first step in confirming that there will be a fall sports season. On Tuesday, sources told 247Sports' Bucknuts that Ohio State was planning to have football players return to campus on June 8. The report of Ohio State's return to campus came just one day after the Big 12 told 247Sports that the conference was looking to resume normal activities beginning in mid-June.

        According to the 247Sports report, protocols for the preparation for the return of student-athletes is in the hands of individual schools. 

        "You have to have therapeutics in place, you have to have testing in place," Bowlsby said. "You have to know what you're going to do with your sanitisation of your weight rooms and your locker rooms and and your training rooms. There's a very heavily logistical component to this and we rely on the the advice of our physicians and an organization that we have hired to advise us on infectious disease control. We're going to do, first and foremost, what is safe for our student-athletes."

        The trend of getting players back on campus and into activities like normal could continue going in the right way as more safety protocols are followed by schools, further preventing the spread of the coronavirus. And while the risk of contracting the disease is not fully gone, more information is being learned on how to fight it. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit — whose two sons play football at Clemson — said he feels the schools will have enough information to not put athletes in harm's way. 

        “I am one of these guys who trusts, in this case, Dabo Swinney, his staff, his doctors, the advice they’re getting from the experts. I think they’re going to err on the side of caution,” Herbstreit said. “But at the same time, trying to walk that fine line between — they need to move forward, right? They need to start working out, they need to think that they’re going to have, potentially, a season and you can’t sit idle as you do that.

        “I have trust and confidence as a parent in the doctors, the trainers, the leaders in the ACC and Clemson, as a parent. Like I said, I don’t look through two different lenses, through college football and my two kids. I look at it all the same.”

        NFHS releases phased guidelines for return of high school athletics

        NFHS releases phased guidelines for return of high school athletics

        Original Article By Nick Stevens, HighSchoolOT managing editor


         — In order for high school sports to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, schools need to take restrictive measures to keep everyone safe, the National Federation of State High School Associations said Tuesday.

        The NFHS, which is the national governing body of high school sports of which the N.C. High School Athletic Association is a member, released a set of guidelines on Tuesday aimed to allow for a safe return to play for high school athletics. The guidelines are very restrictive though, limiting the number of people that can participate and discouraging the use of any equipment.

        While the NCHSAA is a member of the NFHS, it is not bound to these guidelines and can create their own.

        "We have to emphasize that the document states these are guidelines and not intended to be the rule book for what we do in North Carolina," NCHSAA Assistant Commissioner James Alverson said, adding that the document has already been shared with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

        The NFHS said the guidance was developed to give state associations a starting point when they consider their own plans to return to play based on state and local restrictions.

        The guidance, which involves a staged approach, allows for a variation in which sports will be allowed to play.

        Phase 1:

        • Pre-workout screening: All coaches and athletes should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to workout, including a temperature check. Anyone who has positive symptoms should not be allowed to workout and should be referred to their doctor. Vulnerable people should not take part in workouts during the first phase.
        • Limitations on gatherings: No more than 10 people at a time, inside or outside. Locker room should not be used; students should report to workouts with proper gear and return home. Workouts should be conducted in groups of 5-10 students who will always workout together, smaller groups for weight training. A minimum distance of six feet should be maintained.
        • Cleaning: Cleaning schedules must be implemented. Hard surfaces should be wiped down prior to a workout. Hand washing should be practiced and hand sanitizer should be available for all. Students should shower and wash clothes immediately upon returning home.
        • Physical activity & equipment: No shared athletic equipment. No sharing of clothing. All equipment should be cleaned prior to and after each use. Individual drills using equipment are permissible but the equipment must be cleaned before the next person uses it. Free weight exercises that require a spotter are not permissible.
        • Hydration: Student should bring their own water bottlers and they should not be shared. Hydration stations (water cows, water troughs, water fountains) should not be used.

        Phase 2:

        • Pre-workout screening: No changes from phase one.
        • Limitations on gatherings: No more than 10 people at a time inside. Up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors for workouts. If locker rooms or meeting rooms are used, six feet of social distance must be maintained at all times. Workouts should continue to be held in pods. Appropriate social distancing must be maintained, including on the sidelines and benches during practices. Schools should consider using tape or paint as a guide for social distancing.
        • Cleaning: No changes from phase one.
        • Physical activity & equipment: Lower risk sports practices and competitions may resume. Modified practices may begin for moderate risk sports. No shared athletic towels, clothing, or shoes. All equipment must be cleaned periodically during practices and contests. Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at practices and contests. Equipment such as bats, batting helmets, catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar.
        • Hydration: No changes from phase one.

        Phase 3:

        • Pre-workout/contest screening: Any person who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to participate. A record should be kept of all individuals present. Vulnerable individuals can resume interactions, but should practice social distancing.
        • Limitations on gatherings: Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors. When not directly participating in practices or contests, social distancing should be observed.
        • Cleaning: No changes from phase one or two.
        • Physical activity & equipment: Moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin. No shared athletic towels, clothing, or shoes. Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at games and practices. Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, such as hockey helmets/pads, wrestling ear guards, football helmets/other pads, lacrosse helmets/pads/gloves/eyewear should be worn by only one individual and not shared. Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar. Modified practices may begin for higher risk sports.
        • Hydration: Students should bring their own water bottle and should not be shared. Hydration stations may be utilized but must be cleaned after every practice or contest.

        According to the NFHS, the guidance was created by its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which is made up of doctors, athletic trainers, coaches, officials, researchers, and state association executives.

        The NCHSAA announced earlier this month that it will suspend the coronavirus dead period on June 1.