The National Federation of High School Associations, the national governing body of high school sports, has shared a recommended set of guidelines for state associations to follow as they begin to consider a return of sports.
While the guidelines lack a specific start date, as that will vary largely by state and local governments, and these are simply guidelines and not a rulebook for states, they do lay out a logical path to reuniting with your staff and team.
The NFHS put high school sports into three categories; lower risk, moderate risk, and higher risk sports. Not surprisingly to most, football was placed in the higher risk category alongside wrestling, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer and dance.
The recommendation from the NFHS is to involve a three-phase approach to returning. Here’s a look at each of those recommended phases.
Phase 1 includes all coaches and athletes being screened for symptoms of COVID, including a temperature check, prior to workouts. Those with positive symptoms should not be allowed to workout and should be referred to a doctor. The first phase also limits gatherings to no more than 10 people at a time, with no use of locker rooms, and workouts should be done in groups of 5-10 students who will always workout together while a six foot distance should be maintained (so exercises that require a spotter should be avoided).
Phase 2 would still require preworkout screening, and while no more than 10 people can gather at a time inside, workouts outside will allowed to be scaled up to 50. If locker rooms are opened, individuals should observe the 6-foot social distancing guidelines at all times.
Phase 3 relaxes the preworkout screenings to say that any person who has had a fever or cold in the past 24 hours shouldn’t be allowed to participate and attendance should be taken of every workout. Modified practices are recommended to begin for high-risk sports like football during this phase.
Each of the first two phases also recommends players bring their own water bottle and do not gather around hydration stations until the third phase, where those hydration stations should be cleaned after every practice or contest.
Those recommendations are a first-glimpse at what our new normal is likely going to look like, so adjust plans accordingly.