VALDOSTA –– Sports will be back in South Georgia very soon.
The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is re-opening sports activities June 8 after executive director Robin Hines received approval from the board of trustees Thursday afternoon.
Following a 55-minute electronic meeting, Hines announced that high school teams and their athletes are allowed to resume their voluntary workouts while supervised by coaches.
However, the workouts will be strictly for conditioning purposes and no balls or bats are allowed. Scrimmages are also prohibited to ensure participants' safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the new set of guidelines, a limit of 20 players and coaches will make up each workout group. Participants must maintain social distancing and wear masks and face coverings.
Though teams can reconvene for workouts, locker room and shower use has been prohibited. In addition, weight equipment must be cleaned before workouts and sanitized thereafter.
“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,’’ Hines stated in a message to the GHSA’s member schools. “Please make every effort to follow the recommendations and restrictions included in the guidance provided.’’
Hines originally proposed a June 1 return date, but trustees representing larger school districts argued the date was too early. Those pushing for later returns were athletic directors Jasper Jewell of Atlanta Public Schools, Steven Craft of Fulton County Schools and Curt Miller of Henry County Schools.
“I understand the concern that some school systems are not able to do that due to the number of schools, and I empathize with that position,’’ said board of trustees president Glenn White. “The starting date of June 1 is fine, but I’ll also say I’m fine with June 8. Whatever works the best.’’
Teams returning to facilities for organized workouts has no bearing on the start of the 2020-21 seasons. Football activities are currently set to resume July 27, while other sports will resume Aug. 1
Among the list of guidelines, there is to be no competition between schools; each student shall have his/her own water bottle; use of water fountains is prohibited; at least 15 minutes should be scheduled between groups to allow for the facility to be sanitized; during weight training, side spots only and safety bars are preferred. No visitors are allowed during conditioning sessions.