June 1 was a little too soon to allow students back on school campuses for voluntary summer workouts for some on the Georgia High School Association Board of Trustees.
The board met via video teleconference Thursday afternoon to discuss a plan that would have allowed workouts to begin in less than two weeks, but several board members voiced concerns about schools and coaches needing more time to prepare given the restrictions that will be in place. The resolution was to push the date back one week later to June 8.
The teleconference was livestreamed by the National Federation of State High School (NFHS) Association, but choppy audio made it difficult to hear everything all members were saying. Dr. Robin Hines, GHSA executive director, issued this statement shortly after the hour-long meeting concluded.
"The Georgia High School Association will open up conditioning for its member schools on June 8, 2020. The plan is restrictive and provides for conditioning only. As the data related to COVID-19 continues to improve, restrictions may be reduced after input from our health care professionals and guidance from our Governor. Please make every effort to follow the recommendations and restrictions included in the guidance provided."
Guidelines for workouts have been posted on the GHSA website. They include:
- 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 an 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 the campus/facility.
- Groups should be the same individuals (including coaches) for each session to limit risk of exposure. Student 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 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.
Athletes should also answer a questionnaire prior to working out. Those questions include whether they have had a fever in the last week, if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, if they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and if they have traveled to a COVID-19 "hotspot." If student-athletes answer yes to any of those questions, they should not be allowed to work out for 14 days.
This does not mean that fall sports seasons will go on exactly as scheduled. No one even knows yet how schools will operate once the 2020-21 term begins.