Starting this week, Ohio school sports teams became able to hold team workouts for all sports, both non-contact and contact.
Non-contact sports had been previously opened up for training in late May in what is now being referred to as Phase 1. Last Thursday, it was announced that Phase 2 would begin, allowing contact sports to begin open gyms, open fields, workouts and training.
In a memo sent out last week by the OHSAA to member schools, it was announced that the OHSAA had become part of the advisory groups working to responsibly restart sports in conjunction with the Governor’s office. They will use that office’s mandatory and recommended restrictions, which are posted online at the coronavirus.ohio.gov website. Currently, only intra-club/team scrimmages are allowed for contact sports, while competitive games and tournaments are allowed for non-contact sports. Daily assessment of participants must still occur as previously required.
According to the OHSAA’s memo, spectators are permitted, but must follow restrictions, including social distancing. There is no restriction on the number permitted to attend open gyms, fields or facilities, but any athlete not currently participating in intra-team play or skill sessions must practice social distancing.
Since the OHSAA’s 10-Day Rule has been waived for this summer, there is no limit to the number of days in which schools or coaches may conduct these workouts, open gyms/fields and training.
Also, athletic trainers have specific restrictions that includes wearing facemasks when treating an individual and local health departments will continue to have oversight of schools and facilities within their jurisdiction and will have the right to restrict Phase 2 permissions.
The OHSAA also offered a number of recommendations to schools, including:
• Strongly consider limiting attendance at open gyms/field and weightlifting to students in your school.
• Consider assigning oversight to one staff member to comply with all mandated and recommended restrictions.
• Consider limiting attendance at open gyms/field to ensure social distancing for those not directly involved in participating.
• Consider posting signage at facilities emphasizing the health and safety restrictions for the events in those facilities.
Also in the OHSAA’s memo were a few notes to clarify a few points. In the Governor’s orders regarding Phase 2, the word “scrimmage” is used regularly. The OHSAA clarifies that, in this case, scrimmages only constitute that intra-squad competitions may happen in a school’s training session and that competitions between different schools or communities are still not permitted for contact sports.
Also under Phase 2 restrictions, team camps hosted by colleges and other venues are currently not permitted. For out-of-state events and competitions, each state has its own restriction. According to the memo, “While CDC guidelines for sports lists individuals/teams from one geographic area traveling to other geographic areas as the highest risk for spreading COVID-19, there are no mandated restrictions.”
Finally, the memo said that while Phase 3 appears to be the next inevitable step, there has been no suggestion or indication as to what date it would be launched at this time.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS