COLUMBUS, Ohio — A memorable start to the Memorial Day weekend.
The Ohio high school sports world received a much-needed boost in the arm on Thursday afternoon as Governor Mike DeWine announced that in-person skills training could begin at school district facilities starting Tuesday, May 26.
As part of his daily coronavirus update for the Buckeye State, DeWine noted Thursday that skills training for all sports, including contact sports, may resume early next week — as long as safety protocols can be followed.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association, which had implemented and twice since updated a mandatory dead period for all sports back on March 16, informed member schools that the no-contact period for all sanctioned sports was being lifted on Tuesday, May 26.
Though these announcements don’t bring any hope to salvaging the 2020 spring sports season, as all tournaments, games and competitions for contact sports are still prohibited, it does at least provide some sort of hope for a 2020-21 school year that could feature athletic endeavors.
Each individual school district has its own discretion in regards to beginning individual skills training for student-athletes at school facilities, but there are a set of state-issued guidelines that must be followed.
It is mandatory that social distancing should be followed and that coaches designate space for each player to maintain six-foot spacing. Parents/guardians remaining at the training facility should maintain six-foot social distancing practices, and no additional spectators are permitted.
The remaining mandatory rules are:
— No-touch rule is in effect. All individuals must avoid physical contact with others including high fives, huddles, or other close contact occurring before, during, and after skills sessions unless the contact is for the purpose of safety. Scrimmages and games are not permitted.
— No congregation should occur before or after the training or practice session.
— Coaches, players, parents/guardians must do a self-symptom check before going to the training session or practice. Anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home.
All parents or guardians remaining at a practice facility are encouraged to wear a mask.
The following guidelines also apply to equipment being used at the training facilities.
— Facilities/clubs/teams must ensure that practice facilities have adequate space for social distancing on and off the field of play.
— Time should be allotted between sessions to allow teams to exit fields/facilities prior to new teams arriving.
— Equipment and items related to the activity must be sanitized before, during and after every event. If equipment cannot be sanitized during the activity, only participants of a single team must use equipment and items related to the activity and opposing participants avoid touching that equipment.
— All protocol included in the Responsible RestartOhio Guidance for Gyms, Dance Instruction Studios, and Other Personal Fitness Venues must be followed.
Additional updates will be provided throughout the upcoming weeks, but Thursday’s announcement does provide some hope for high school athletic come fall.
It is, after all, the first step forward in a rather long time.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.