How schools are restarting sports with safety at forefront

Indoor and outdoor workouts resume with some districts expecting fall competition
By: | June 15, 2020
Districts are restarting school sports activities with safety measures such as limiting the size of groups, temperature checks and keeping locker rooms closed. ( Casillas)Districts are restarting school sports activities with safety measures such as limiting the size of groups, temperature checks and keeping locker rooms closed. ( Casillas)

Students in several parts of the country this week are returning to school sports activities, with extensive safeguards in place to stymie the spread of coronavirus as young athletes eye competition that could begin in the fall.

In Florida’s Duval County Public Schools, the nation’s 20th largest district, students on Monday were allowed to resume outdoor conditioning in the system’s first phase of restarting athletic activities.

“Now knowing that it’s the governor’s expectation that football go on next year, we need to take appropriate steps to ensure students are physically ready,” Superintendent Diana Greene said on the district’s website. “We are only a week behind our normal training schedule.”

The district plans to allow weightlifting on June 29 and practices on July 13, though those dates could change if coronavirus concerns increase.

More from DAWhat states are requiring and recommending in school reopening plans

“We are able to open our training program in a way that respects the immediate health of players and staff in the COVID-19 environment and with an eye toward our student-athletes’ health if full-contact begins later this year,” Greene said.

The district worked with the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program to develop its health guidelines, including:

  • Group size cannot exceed 20 (i.e., 18 students with two coaches).
  • Groups should comprise the same students and coaches each session
  • Sessions can last an hour, with 15 minutes in between to allow groups to exit facilities.
  • Athletes’ temperature will checked before each session.
  • Masks are required for students and staff entering and exiting the facility.
  • No spectators allowed.
  • All student-athletes must bring their own water bottle and towel—no use of water fountains or water coolers.
  • Locker rooms will remain closed.
  • A designated restroom will be available. All other facilities will be closed.
  • Coaches are also required to keep thorough attendance records to support contact tracing if necessary.

School sports re-emerge from COVID-19

North Carolina’s high school athletic association has also allowed schools to resume 90-minute indoor and outdoor workouts.

Activities held outside are limited to 25 people while with indoor sessions capped at 10, and groups must remain the same each day.

Along with rigorous cleaning off all facilities, schools must monitor coaches and students for coronavirus symptoms. If any student in a group tests positive, the whole group will have to quarantine for 14 days.

The association urges coaches and staff to wear cloth face coverings while athletes should wear when not engaged in physical activity. Everyone should maintain 6-feet physical
distancing at all times.

Other states that have allowed sports activities to resume include Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Your school district has to feel comfortable with putting things together to keep kids as healthy and safe as possible,” Tim Johnston, athletic director of the East Grand Rapids Public School District, told I’m glad school districts have the ability to make some local decisions with what they think is best for their schools and kids.”

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.