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NCHSAA allowing sports to resume June 15, with restrictions

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association took a first step forward Monday morning, lifting some restrictions on high school sports that have been in place since March 13.

Individual schools can implement their own guidelines that are stricter than the NCHSAA’s if they so choose, including prolonging the date athletes can return to facilities. In most cases. the decision will be left in the hands of the school systems.

There are many restrictions and health precautions from the National Federation of State High School Association that schools will have to abide by to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, including a maximum of 25 people in outdoor groups, and a maximum of 10 people gathering indoors.

All sports will be able to resume limited workouts, but many sanitizing and cleaning rules have been put in place.

• Facility Cleaning — Cleaning schedules must be created. All equipment and high-touch areas must be sanitized before and after use. Hand sanitizer must be plentiful and available; showers must be taken at home.

• Entering/exiting — Teams must prevent groups from gathering at entrances and exits to the facilities.

• Pre-Workout Monitoring — All coaches and students must be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature check. Anyone with a 100.4 degree temperature or higher will not be allowed to participate. Responses to questions must be recorded for each athlete and coach. The head coach is responsible for the collection of data each day.

• Exposure or positive tests — If a person or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, all members of that group, and whoever has been in close contact, should quarantine until 14 days pass after their last exposure, unless a COVID-19 test comes back negative. Temperatures should be checked twice daily and those who may have been exposed should stay away from people who are higher risk.

• Returning from positive tests — Students will not be able to return after a positive test until they have had no fever for 72 hours without fever reducing meds, as well as a resolution of respiratory systems. At least 10 days must have passed since symptoms first appeared and a note from licensed medical provider is required.

• Face coverings — State, local and district guidelines must be followed. Coaches, managers and staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks at all times. Athletes are also strongly recommended to wear face coverings when not engaged in physical activity. Face coverings cannot be shared. Face shields are not permitted during participation due to risk of injury.

• Hydration/food — No sharing of water bottles or food. All students must bring their own water bottle.

• Team travel — No team travel is permitted. (No 7-on-7 football scrimmages or basketball scrimmages allowed at the current time)

Football, soccer, cheerleading and volleyball are among the “high-risk” sports that take place in the fall sports season. There are also guidelines for these sports specifically.

• Football — Wearing protective equipment is prohibited during phase one. Conditioning and individual skill drills are permitted. A player must not participate in drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other teammates is not allowed. Tackling dummies, donuts and sleds must be disinfected after each use.

• Soccer — Conditioning and individual ball skills are permitted. Each player must use their own ball that must be disinfected after each workout. Use feet only, no heading or use of hands.

• Volleyball — Conditioning and individual skills permitted. Each player must have their own ball. A player must not participate in drills with a single ball that will be bumped, served or passed to other teammates.

• Cheerleading — Conditioning and individual technique or choreography work is permitted. Students cannot practice or perform partner or group stunts. Chants, jumps, dance and tumbling without contact is permissible with a six-foot distance.

Cross-country, girls’ tennis and golf, the remaining fall sports, are deemed “low-risk sports.” Runners and golfers must maintain six feet of distance, and cross-country runners will use staggered starts to limit grouping. Tennis players cannot share balls. Each player should serve their own can of balls, and ball machines will be for individuals only. Coaches must disinfect balls and rackets after use.

There is no time limit set on how long phase one will last after it begins June 15. The pre-existing dead period of June 29 through July 5 is still in place.