By Tim Gardner
The North Carolina High School Athletics Association Board of Directors have voted to allow public schools to move to Phase 2 of its reopening plan amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Phase 2 will start August 3 in the NCHSAA’s summer guidelines for athletics. However, this governing body of public prep sports in the state did not remove many restrictions from its opening phase.
The NCHSAA has said it plans to allow teams to begin fall practice September 1. Individual school districts may determine whether or not its local schools will participate.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker commented about Phase 2: “Each NCHSAA Board Member believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to safely offering a fall, winter, and spring sports program during this school year; however, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches.”
Avery County Schools Superintendent Daniel Brigman said Avery High will fully follow the NCHSAA’s directives.
By NCHSAA mandates, gatherings in outside venues remain limited to no more than 25 persons and gatherings in gymnasiums remain limited to no more than 10 persons.
Workouts and conditioning remain limited to no more than 90 minutes in Phase Two. Athletes, however, can now use balls during workouts, as long as they are properly cleaned.
Other Phase 2 highlights include:
*Sharing of equipment is permissible within small groups/pods.
*Wearing protective equipment remains prohibited.
*Equipment must be disinfected frequently, and it mandates disinfecting prior to use by another pod.
“There can’t be a lot of changes in Plan 2 because of what is still permitted by the state,” Brigman said. “I’m sure all our fall sports athletes at Avery High were happy when they learned they can use actual balls for their workouts. Besides that, very little changed.”
NCHSAA officials have indicated there is no timeline on how long Phase 2 will last.
The NCHSAA began Phase 1 workouts on June 15 with a tentative start date of fall sports on August 1.
The NCHSAA announced earlier this month that fall sports will start competitive games or matches no earlier than September 1. Decisions relative to the September 1 start date, will be made in August, according to the NCHSAA.
Its full-time staff members have been working closely with the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) about recommendations for member schools regarding summer activities that align with the North Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) directives. The guidance utilizes a phased approach for NCHSAA athletes and is intended to help school administrators, coaches, parents, students, and communities navigate a gradual reopening of high school athletic activities.
The health and safety measures outlined in this plan were formed utilizing National Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NCDHHS, and NCHSAA information at this time. It is recognized, however, that the information and circumstances concerning COVID-19 remain fluid and variable. Therefore, these guidelines are subject to change in conjunction with new knowledge of COVID-19 or changing social conditions.
“We have to continue to follow what is allowed by our governor (Roy Cooper), and what he permits due to COVID-19 could change quickly, depending on how much it progresses or decreases. Prayerfully, the cases of coronavirus will start decreasing and we can get back to normal routines at Avery High, which include in our sports activities,” Brigman added.