From the Sports Editor’s Desk… Monday decision paves way for high school football to resume

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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The collective Ric Flair ‘WOO’ that was heard on Monday came from local football coaches and players from Mountain City to Morristown who voted to open up athletic facilities effective June 1st that ultimately allows players and coaches to get back to work in preparation for a football season in 2020.
Even though many still don’t know what that season may look like, right now these baby steps will hopefully get things in perspective by the time the TSSAA decides how to approach the full season.
Coaches throughout the region owe a tremendous big ‘Thank You’ to Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner who pitched the plan last week to athletic directors and school directors to chew on until Monday’s vote.
Even though there are restrictions in place, the plan seems to be one that will prove to be beneficial if for nothing more than to get the players back to a sense of normalcy and away from their homes where many have been since school was closed due to the pandemic.
Part of the plan includes school leaders meeting weekly to see how things are progressing and see if there is anything that needs to be addressed.
“The first thing we want to do is make sure that we show parents that we are doing exactly what we say we are going to do in protecting their child,” said Turner.
Parents or guardians will be required to sign a consent form for their child to participate with the understanding that none of the workouts are mandatory and no athlete will have to face any type of negative consequences should they elect not to participate in the workouts.
That will also apply to coaches who elect to forego being together in a group activity.
When the workouts begin, there will be nine athletes per coach and the groups will remain the same in the event of an athlete potentially catching the COVID-19 that it would be easier to isolate the group they have been working with.
Safety will be the keyword for all as record keeping will be required to ensure that there will be safe student/instructor management.
Each day that the athletes and coaches come to work out, there will be a pre-activity checklist that makes sure that basic symptom evaluations are conducted daily.
If a student or instructor is determined to have a fever of 100 degrees or greater, they will have to return home immediately. If they cannot leave immediately, they will be separated from the rest of the group present.
Some of the questions on the evaluation include:
1. Do you have an unexplained cough?
2. DO you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?
3. Have you been out of the county in the last 14 days? If yes, when and where?
4. Have you been around anyone who has had COVID-19?
5. Have you had COVID-19?
If a student/instructor is known to be in contact with someone who has or has had COVID-19, then the student/instructor will not attend activities for two weeks after the last contact with the affected individual.
The student/instructor must have been symptom-free for the entirety of the two weeks. If the student/instructors develop symptoms, then that individual will follow the guidelines for those who have been infected.
Only school personnel and students will be allowed to be in the facilities – no spectators.
The social distancing of six feet will be maintained at all times and there will be no physical contact of any kind among activity participants.
The ratio of 10 will be one instructor and nine athletes per group. Students will have no access to dressing facilities and must come prepared for the workout.
Some of the activities may require a mask to participate.
School equipment will be sanitized before use by different athletes and students will only use equipment that can be used safely without a spotter.
While many precautions will be in place, the school administration and athletic directors may require further steps as things progress forward.
And while things will be different, many are excited to see that steps are being taken toward a positive start to the season. Time will tell how the season will be played out as far as to start dates, numbers of games, travel limitations, and other logistics.
Fans can be thankful to see a little more movement of the needle toward getting things started back.

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