High School Sports Receive Guidelines

For Their Return To Play

By: Staff Reporter     5-21-2020

The National Federation of State High School Sports Association released guidance for its state high school associations, Ohio included, to consider when starting sports and other activities back up.


A 15-member advisory committee composed of medical doctors, certified athletic trainers, high school
football coaches and officials, research specialists and state high school association executives created a 16-page document which highlights a three-part plan for bringing athletics back in the fall while also labeling sports into three risk tiers (higher, moderate, lower).


The NFHS article states; "The guidance developed for state associations suggests a possible sport
breakdown for higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk, with the basis for the breakdown tied to the
potential exposure to respiratory droplets. As an example, the interaction of participants in higher-risk

sports such as football and wrestling present more of a concern for transmission of the virus than lower-risk sports like individual running events and golf."

High-risk athletics: Wrestling, Football, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, dance


Moderate-risk athletics: Basketball, volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, soccer, water polo, gymnastics*, icehockey, field hockey, tennis*, swimming relays, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7 on 7 football.


*could be "lower-risk" if equipment can be properly cleaned and athletes proper use of masks.


Low-risk athletics: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual
swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running (with
staggered starts).


Now to the three phases the NFHS suggests administrators to use.

Phase One


- Coaches and athletes should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and signs including a temperature
check prior to workouts and those checks should be recorded in case an athlete develops symptoms.
If an athlete does report positive symptoms they should stay home and not participate in workouts while
also contacting their primary care provider or appropriate health-care professional.
Also, vulnerable individuals to the virus should not attend or participate in the workouts.

The NFHS has developed a "Road Map" for a return to athletic competition that will be implemented in three phases, though, there is no timeline outlined for this plan as of yet.

- Limitations on gatherings will limit the amount of athletes participating together suggesting no more than 10 in a group at a time inside or outside. Those same groups of up to 10 people should remain in a"pod" where they would remain in one group during all workouts and could break that "pod" into smaller groups for weight training.

 

This would help limit exposure in case an athlete gets the virus. Locker rooms would remain closed during this phase and athletes should arrive at workouts in their proper gear and shower at home immediately when they get there.

 

Finally, all athletes should keep a 6-foot distance during this time in their "pods." If the whole group can not be safely apart indoors then the groups will need to be decreased.

 

- Equipment will be limited to one athlete. For example, no team activities between athletes with baseballs, softballs, basketballs, footballs, etc. However, athletes can participate in solo workouts with them. The used equipment should also be properly cleaned after use and before another can use them. The same should be used for weight training equipment.

 

- Facilities and equipment in them should be thoroughly cleaned prior to and after workouts.

 

- Weight training activities that require a spotter should not be conducted at this time.

 

- Athletes should not share clothing, towels, shoes, other wearable sports equipment and once they return home all clothing and towels should be immediately washed. Each athlete should bring their own water bottles and all hydration stations (water buckets, water troughs, water fountains) should not be used during workouts.

 

- Hand washing for at least 20 seconds should be a norm at workouts and hand sanitizer should be present at facilities for athletes and coaches.

Phase Two


- The pre-workout screenings and limitations to ones with symptoms or more vulnerable to the virus are
the same in phase two as they are in phase one.


- Gatherings are the same for indoor workouts, however, outdoor workouts can have up to 50 individuals.


Locker rooms may be used, but individuals should stay 6 feet apart.

 

Sports deemed to be "High Risk" by the NFHS, such as football, may be in jeopardy of starting on time if the phases of this plan are not implemented fast and effectively.

Workouts should remain in their "pods" with the same 5-10 individuals with the same restrictions as in
phase one. This remains the same with indoor workouts, as well. If a whole "pod" cannot safely stay 6 feet apart indoors then the group number should decrease until they can.


- Equipment and facilities should be cleaned the same as in phase one, however, lower-risk sports can
resume practicing while moderate-risk sports can begin modified practices.


- Athletes should not share clothing, towels, shoes, other wearable sports equipment and once they
return home all clothing and towels should be immediately washed and they should shower immediately upon returning home.


Each athlete should bring their own water bottles and all hydration stations (water buckets, water
troughs, water fountains) should not be used during workouts.


- Weight lifting can be performed and spotters are allowed, however, it should be kept to a minimum.


- Hand washing for at least 20 seconds should be a norm at workouts and hand sanitizer should be
present.

Phase Three


-Any person who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate healthcare professional.


Records still should be kept on athletes in case they get the virus.
Vulnerable individuals are allowed to resume interactions with social distancing and should take precautions in places where social distancing may not be practical.

 

- Up to 50 individuals can participate indoors and outdoors and when not directly participating in
practices or contests they should participate in social distancing.


- Facilities and equipment should remain to be cleaned thoroughly as in phases one and two.
- Moderate-risk sports are able to resume practices and competitions while modified practices may begin for higher-risk sports with the pre-screening practices of phases one and two.


- Athletes should not share clothing, towels, shoes, other wearable sports equipment and once they
return home all clothing and towels should be immediately washed and they should shower immediately upon returning home.


Each athlete should bring their own water bottles and all hydration stations (water buckets, water
troughs, water fountains) should not be used during workouts.


- Weight lifting can be performed and spotters are allowed, however, it should be kept to a minimum.


Finally, once events do return it is recommended to place different groups into tiers in order to determine which tiers should be permitted into the event.


Tier one (Essential): Athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, security
Tier two (preferred): Media
Tier three (non-essential): Spectators, vendors.


It is noted that tiers one and two will only be permitted until state/local health departments lift restrictions. on mass gatherings.


This is a roadmap for state and area athletic administrators to get athletes back on the field, but with fall quickly approaching these phases need to begin or higher-risk sports like Football may not see the field.

"Low-Risk" sports, such as cross-country, are expected to stay on track for a return to competition beginning in the fall under the new guidelines.

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