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With football practices set to begin for Georgia High School Association (GHSA) programs next week, the league has removed a few more restrictions put in place earlier this summer. 

Limitations on the total number of people present for workouts/practices are being removed, meaning full teams will be allowed to practice together. The number had been at 50 for the past month. Use of locker room and shower facilities will now be permitted moving forward, provided that those areas be cleaned following each use. 

The removal of these restrictions is a continuation of decisions made over the course of the summer by the GHSA as it prepares for what it hopes will be a full 2020 season. The organization’s board of trustees met Monday and voted unanimously to push the season back two weeks, meaning play begins Sept. 4 rather than Aug. 21. A vote to carry on the season as originally scheduled failed to pass by an 8-4 tally. The delayed season keeps the entire 10-game regular schedule intact as well as all five rounds of the playoffs. The high school football state championships will now be played Dec. 28-30. 

The decision to push play back does not affect the start of practice. The acclimatization period still begins Monday, and teams may put on the pads starting Aug. 1. 

The GHSA has made other recommendations following Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines’ latest meeting with his sports medicine advisory council. Pertaining to locker room use, social distancing should be practiced. If not possible, player groups should take turns using the room. Masks/face coverings are “highly recommended” inside the locker rooms, weight rooms and any other indoor facilities for players while it is also highly recommended that coaches and staff members wear them at all times. Scrimmages are allowed, but they, like the regular season, are being pushed back two weeks. 

Perhaps the most interesting point given in this latest guidance has to do with the fans. The GHSA says decisions regarding stadium seating and concession stands will be made on the local level “with an expectation of including Department of Health, local health professionals, and school district policies.” 

Schools now have about a month and a half before the start of the season to make these decisions with the vote to push the season back. 

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