National Federation of State High School Associations sends guidance for return of high school sports

High schools sports guidance

INDIANAPOLIS (WECT) - The National Federation of State High School Associations released guidance on Tuesday for high school athletics and activities to return during the coronavirus pandemic.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is a member of the NFHS and can follow the guidance or come up with its own.

“The document states these are guidelines and not intended to be the rule book for what we do in North Carolina,” said NCHSAA Assistant Commissioner James Alverson. “The document and recommendations have been shared with the Department of Public Instruction and we will work with DPI and other state entities to plot the best path forward in NC."

The NFHS has placed sports in categories according to the risk of spreading COVID-19 with lower risk sports returning first followed by moderate risk and higher risk.

Lower risk sports include individual running events, throwing events, individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, sideline cheerleading, and cross country running with staggered starts.

Moderate risk sports include basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high jump, long jump, girls lacrosse, and 7-on-7 football.

Higher risk sports include wrestling, football, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance.

Below are the NFHS’s three phases for opening high school sports.

Phase 1:

  • Pre-workout screening: All coaches and athletes should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout, including a temperature check. Anyone who has positive symptoms should not be allowed to work out 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 rooms 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 work out 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 bottles 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.

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