Middle and high school sports training to restart with restrictions today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Practices for fall middle and high school sports begins today, with winter and spring sports to follow on July 6. Band practice and JROTC training will also resume today.

The dates were approved by the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday. All practices and competitions have been shut down for more than two months and the spring seasons for all sports were cut short.

RSS Associate Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said staggering the start dates for fall and spring sports will allow the schools to work out any problems with fewer students on campuses.

The move falls in line with state guidelines set by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, which released a guide for reopening school sports on June 8. Vann said band and JROTC programs will follow the same guidelines as traditional sports.

Those guidelines outline key strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including hand washing, social distancing, disinfecting areas that are touched often and requiring people who are sick or COVID-19 positive to stay home.

All students and coaches will be required to be screened for symptoms daily and have their temperatures checked. Workouts will be performed within the same small groups of students, who will still be required to remain 6 feet away from each other. The guidelines are based on requirements from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the required  hygiene practices was listed in bold: “No spitting!”

Board member Jean Kennedy asked Vann if the schools are prepared for the reopening. Vann said principals and athletic directors are confident they are, and the district delivered thermometers and hand sanitizer to each school.

The guidelines are supposed to progress in phases, and so far information has only been release for phase one

There are also guidelines for each sport. Wearing protective equipment for football is not allowed during phase one. No contact will be allowed between players, including passing the ball, and activities will be limited to individual drills and conditioning.

Golf and cross country athletes, by comparison, only have to stay at least 6 feet apart.

Superintendent Lynn Moody said this will require strong community support to ensure the guidelines are being followed correctly.

Board Chair Kevin Jones asked how schools will be monitored because some coaches may have trouble following the restrictions.

District Athletic Director Rick Vanhoy said he spoke to each athletic director in the district, and he will be visiting schools to check paperwork.

“It’s going to fall on those A.D.s, and I will follow up with them to make sure they’re monitoring their school and their facilities well,” he said.

Vanhoy noted athletic trainers will be used, but for the most part they are not required to be on site for workouts. He noted football training in equipment does require trainers, but due to the current guidelines that will not be an issue and the district would be using trainers for added safety.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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