Category Archives: high schools

Local coaches discuss plan for return to work

Columbia Central’s refurbished weight room will get busy as summer workouts under COVID-19 guidelines are set to start on June 8. Mt. Pleasant and Spring Hill will begin offseason practices then as well. (Photo by Maurice Patton)

By Maurice Patton

High school coaches in Maury County now know when they will be able to begin summer workouts with their athletes, and the COVID-19 parameters within which those workouts can take place.

How many athletes they will have to work with looms as the sticking point.

Chris Poynter, athletics director for Maury County Public Schools, distributed “a plan that is safe and realistic as it pertains to slowly opening our facilities and bringing back our student-athletes/band members to train and practice” to MCPS principals, ADs, coaches and band directors.

The plan allows students — with updated physicals — to “begin training, try-out and practicing for their respective teams” on June 8.

This portion of the startup differs from the guidelines previously recommended by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association, in which an extension on physicals from the 2019-20 school year was suggested for participation.

“A lot can happen between March and the second week of June,” Poynter said, referring to the last school-related physical activity for MCPS athletes. “These kids have been sitting around since March. To have kids come out in 80-, 90-degree weather and ramp back up that quickly, we think it’s unsafe.

“In this season of COVID, it’s good to have a medical professional look at them. It makes the transition a lot easier and gives everyone that peace of mind.”

Coaches across the county are concerned with the prospects of all their athletes having updated physicals in time for the June 8 start.

“The first thing I did was call and make an appointment for my (children) – for Thursday,” Columbia Central football coach Jason Hoath said. “With every kid in Maury County trying to get a physical in Maury County in a week, I don’t see it as a realistic expectation. But we’re going to do the best we can.

“I understand the reason we’re doing it. You want to make sure they’re ready to participate after not doing anything the last 9-10 weeks. But it’s going to be difficult to get everybody in in a week.”

Poynter, who said priority for practice is to be given to fall sports (football, girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and golf) during the month of June, also said efforts are being made to secure free physicals with local medical providers.

“The logistics of getting 70-75 kids a physical in a week’s time – it’s sometimes hard when we’ve got three months,” Spring Hill football coach Ben Martin said. “But I’m just glad we have some sort of guidelines and have been given the go-ahead to start, to be able to tell our kids something and not look like I don’t know what in the world is going on when they call.”

Coaches will be required to submit their plans for return to Poynter during the upcoming week for approval. Those plans will include practice times and sites, as well as areas that will need to be covered by custodial staff.

Athletes will be expected to maintain social distance and work in groups of nine or less with a coach, with “noticeable distance and separation” between groups, whether working indoors or outdoors. The same athletes are expected to remain together as they move from station to station. Athletes can remove masks during physical activity but are expected to wear them otherwise. No physical contact is to take place. 

“It’ll be a little challenging at first, but I think we can make it work,” Mt. Pleasant football coach Bronson Bradley said. “The larger schools may have more of a problem than us, but I think we’ve got a pretty good plan set forth to go by those guidelines.

“I’m pretty excited … mainly to see the guys. I haven’t really seen them since March 14. I’m just excited to see them and get back in a routine of things.”

That routine will be somewhat shortlived, as the TSSAA-mandated dead period begins June 21 and ends July 4.

“We’ve got to get a plan together, use the space we’ve got to work with and get as much done as we can in the time that’s been allotted for us,” Hoath said. “We’ll do what we can do in two weeks.”

In communicating with MCPS personnel, Poynter was unsure as to how activities would continue after the dead period.

“At this time there are too many uncertainties to explore what the month of July moving forward will look like,” he said. “As we get into the month of June, we will be able to determine if we will be able to remove any of the restrictions outlined for the month of June.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

Maury County’s Ironmen and Ironwomen

By Maurice Patton

With Aedan Turner leading the way, 60 athletes from Maury County were recently recognized by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association for participating in three or more TSSAA-sanctioned sports during the 2019-20 school year.

Based on eligibility reports submitted by each school for each sport, Columbia Academy had 20 such athletes – including Turner, the county’s lone five-sport participant who bowled, ran on the cross country and track teams and played golf and soccer for the Bulldogs.

CA’s Franklin Walker took part in four sports, running track in addition to playing baseball, basketball and football.

Zion Christian Academy had 17 athletes appearing on three or more rosters, including Max Brown (baseball, basketball, football, soccer) and Madison Hayes (basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball).

Mt. Pleasant (eight three-sport athletes) and Spring Hill (three) each boasted a four-sport participant as well – Keshawn Hudson (baseball, basketball, track and football) for the Tigers, Kevin Carabello (cross country, track, football, wrestling) for the Raiders.

Each of the county’s athletic programs had at least one three-sport athlete.

Printable certificates commemorating these athletes’ accomplishments have been distributed by the TSSAA state office to each school. Distributing those to the athletes, in light of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, may not be possible, according to officials. 

Of the 83,000-plus athletes at TSSAA member schools, a total of 3,036 participated in more than two sports – less than four percent.

“If the pandemic has reminded us of anything, a child’s school days are precious,” TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said. “That’s why our principals and athletic directors need to create an environment in their schools where students can experience as many different sports as they want.

“Telling a kid they can’t do something just because one coach or another doesn’t want them to is basically cheating them out of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Across the state, five schools reported 25 or more athletes that took part in at least three sports: Battle Ground Academy; Briarcrest Christian; Franklin Road Academy; Pearl-Cohn; and Westmoreland.

“Our athletic programs do not exist to serve college sports programs, but it is worth reminding coaches and parents that college recruiters are looking for students that display a great attitude, work ethic and leadership qualities,” Childress said. “Those are traits that you develop through participating in a variety of activities.”

Maury County’s three-sport athletes:

Columbia Acad. – Bryant Beranek (baseball, basketball, football); Anna Claire Butt (basketball, soccer, tennis); Hallie Butterfield (basketball, tennis, volleyball); Kennedy Chatman (basketball, softball, volleyball); Annabelle Cothran (cross country, softball, track and field); Devon Del Carmen (track and field, football, soccer); Chase Duncan (baseball, basketball, golf); Ella Fuller (basketball, track and field, volleyball); Caroline Graham (basketball, cross country, track and field); Julianna Hanson (basketball, soccer, track and field); Jaelyn Hickerson (basketball, cross country, track and field); Will Jackson (baseball, basketball, football); Graham Lewis (track and field, football, soccer); Collins Malone (basketball, track and field, football); Gavin Morgan (basketball, cross country, track and field); Hayden Morgan (basketball, cross country, track and field), Jacob Perry (baseball, basketball, football); Aedan Turner (bowling, cross country, golf, track and field, soccer); Laney Turner (basketball, softball, volleyball); Franklin Walker (baseball, basketball, track and field, football)

Columbia Central – Lizbeth Tadeo-Vargas (cross country, track and field, wrestling)

Culleoka – Kaydence Humphrey (basketball, soccer, softball); Mary Norton (basketball, cross country, soccer)

Hampshire – Ethan Bowden (baseball, basketball, cross country); Errette Delk (baseball, basketball, cross country)

Mt. Pleasant – Kylie Brewer (basketball, softball, volleyball); T.J. Bridges (cross country, tennis, track and field); Jackson Gary (baseball, cross country, track and field); Baleigh Gray (basketball, cross country, softball); Benjamin Hirsch (baseball, cross country, track and field); Keshawn Hudson (baseball, basketball, track and field, football); Audrey Kittrell (basketball, softball, volleyball); Jakob Smith (basketball, cross country, tennis)

Santa Fe – Elise Adkison (basketball, softball, volleyball), Gracey Bates (basketball, cross country, volleyball), Josh Martin (baseball, basketball, cross country), Terralyn Pemberton (basketball, softball, volleyball); Shelby Rector (golf, softball, volleyball), Ally Warf (basketball, cross country, volleyball), Logan Wilkins (baseball, basketball, golf)

Spring Hill – Kevin Carabello (cross country, track and field, football, wrestling), Katherine Carter (basketball, softball, volleyball), Kemonta Fry (track and field, football, wrestling)

Zion Chr. – Halle Adcox (basketball, softball, volleyball), Jack Brown (baseball, basketball, soccer), Max Brown (baseball, basketball, football, soccer); William Craig (cross country, tennis, track and field); Madison Hayes (basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball); Becca Hazard (basketball, softball, volleyball); Ana Hudson (soccer, tennis, volleyball); Sarah Joiner (soccer, softball, volleyball); Kathryn Kennedy (basketball, softball, volleyball); Zach Knowles (basketball, football, soccer); Mark Lowery (baseball, basketball, football); Connor Matheny (basketball, football, soccer); Emily Mesko (basketball, soccer, softball); Warren Riggins (basketball, football, soccer); Wesley Riggins (basketball, football, soccer); Dillan Runions (basketball, football, soccer); Peyton White (basketball, softball, volleyball)

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

NFHS sets COVID-19 guidelines for summer workouts

SM-Tn Sports

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association recently distributed a pair of documents related to the restart of activities under COVID-19 guidelines to its membership, as programs begin offseason preparation for the fall sports seasons.

From the TSSAA:

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recently released its Return to Sport Guidelines to state high school athletic associations across the country. You are receiving this document from TSSAA to serve as guidance for informational purposes.

What has become very clear is that policies enacted at the state, city, and local levels may ultimately determine whether or not you are able to engage in the specific types of activities described in this document. As a result, TSSAA is not in a position to develop policy regarding coordinated approaches to activity. The NFHS guidelines are based on the federal guidelines for the phased reopening of America.

We are not aware of a central repository of information that delineates what recovery phase your school or school system may be under. When using this document, you will need to consult with local authorities in determining which of the three phases would be appropriate for the development of your specific guidelines. 

We know that a number of you either have developed, or, are in the process of developing your own guidelines for your school or school system. We encourage you to review the attached document as you develop your school or school system policy. 

If you have access to the services of a certified athletic trainer, school nurse, office of coordinated school health, central office staff, governing boards and local health departments, consider collaboration with these individuals in an effort to develop specific plans that will enable kids to safely return to activities. As we become aware of additional resources that can assist you in this process, we will quickly pass those along. 

In addition to guidelines for practice and conditioning sessions, the NFHS document contains guidelines for contests. Questions about regular season contests, postseason tournaments, playoffs and state championships are matters that we believe are best addressed at a later date. We will continue to examine these issues in an effort to develop answers as new information and guidance becomes available. 

We know these are important issues, but our most urgent focus is on safely returning kids to activities this summer. Preliminary research strongly suggests that school closure and cancellation of activities is having a significant impact on the physical and mental health of students. It is our hope that this guiding document will help schools design specific plans that maximize opportunities for their students to return to activities while minimizing the risk for COVID-19 exposure.

From the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee:

The COVID-19 pandemic presents state high school associations with a myriad of challenges. The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offers this document as guidance on how state associations can consider approaching the many components of “opening up” high school athletics and activities across the United States. 

The NFHS SMAC believes it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition. The NFHS SMAC recognizes that it is likely that ALL students will not be able to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time in all schools, regions and states. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held. While we would typically have reservations regarding such inequities, the NFHS SMAC endorses the idea of returning students to school-based athletics and activities in any and allsituations where it can be done safely. 

Since NFHS member state associations are a well-respected voice for health and safety issues, the NFHS SMAC strongly urges that these organizations engage with state and local health departments to develop policy regarding coordinated approaches for return to activity for high school, club and youth sports. 

The recommendations presented in this document are intended as ideas for state associations to consider with their respective SMACs and other stakeholders in designing return-to-activity guidelines that will be in accordance with state or local restrictions. 

Please note that the phases of “opening up” outlined below are based upon the White House document released in April 2020. Consult your state and local health departments to review if they are using a similar approach, or how the phases in this document correspond to your state or local governments nomenclature. 

Some state associations may wish to consider the following four questions before further deliberation on this document: 

1. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if public schools statewide are closed to in-person learning (apart from regularly scheduled school breaks)? 

2. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if schools are closed only in COVID-19 “hotspots” in your state? (excluding participants from schools that are closed)? 

3. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season in sports deemed “lower-risk” for COVID-19 transmission while cancelling athletics/activities considered “higher-risk?” 

4. Are there recommendations unique to your state – or regions of your state – that you need to take into consideration when developing return-to-activity guidelines? 

Points of Emphasis: 

1. Decreasing potential exposure to respiratory droplets is the guiding principle behind social distancing and the use of face coverings. It is also the basis of the stratification of risk by sport presented later on in this document. The use of cloth face coverings is meant to decrease the spread of respiratory droplets. As state and local COVID-19 prevalence decreases, the need for strict social distancing and the use of face coverings will lessen. Look to guidance from your state and local health departments. 

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is additionally “advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

B. Recognizing the benefits and potential drawbacks of the use of cloth face coverings during conditioning and physical activity, the NFHS SMAC recommends the following: 

i. State, local or school district guidelines for cloth face coverings should be strictly followed. 

ii. Cloth face coverings should be considered acceptable. There is no need to require or recommend “medical grade” masks for athletic activity. 

iii. Any student who prefers to wear a cloth face covering during a contest should be allowed to do so. 

iv. In the absence of guidelines to the contrary, we recommend that cloth face coverings be worn by students during Phases 1 and 2 as outlined below. Exceptions are swimming, distance running or other high intensity aerobic activity. Cloth face coverings may continue to be used during Phase 3 when not engaging in vigorous activity, such as sitting on the bench during contests, in the locker room and in the athletic training room. 

v. Plastic shields covering the entire face (or attached to a helmet) shall not be allowed during contests. Their use during practices increases the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield or teammates. 

vi. Coaches, officials and other contest personnel may wear cloth face coverings at all times during Phases 1 through 3. (Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm can be used to signal in place of a traditional whistle.) 

2. Testing regimens, specific guidelines regarding mass gatherings, and response to a student or team member testing positive for COVID-19 (including contact tracing) are all currently under review, and guidance will come from CDC and state and local health departments. Limited testing availability, lack of resources for contact tracing, and expanding knowledge of the characteristics of COVID-19 transmission could all result in significant changes to the recommendations below. The NFHS SMAC and state association SMACs expect to disseminate this information as it becomes available. 

3. Due to the near certainty of recurrent outbreaks this coming fall and winter in some locales, state associations must be prepared for periodic school closures and the possibility of some teams having to isolate for two to three weeks while in-season. Development of policies is recommended regarding practice and/or competition during temporary school closures, the cancellation of contests during the regular season, and parameters for the cancellation or premature ending to post-season events/competitions. 

4. With the uncertainty of which phase will be attained at the beginning of a sports season or maintained during a season, scheduling contests that require less travel when possible should be considered. Such scheduling will reduce time spent in buses or vans. It will also potentially decrease the need for rescheduling contests as “opening up” may occur regionally. If opponents at the time of a contest are subject to different restrictions, re-scheduling that contest for a later date may be problematic. 

5. The principles presented in this guidance document can be applied to practices, rehearsals, and events for the performing arts with the exception of singing and the playing of wind instruments. The extent of the spread of respiratory droplets during these activities is currently under investigation and further guidance will issued as it becomes available. 

6. “Vulnerable individuals” are defined by CDC as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy. 

7. Until a cure, vaccine or very effective treatment is readily available, or so-called “herd immunity” is confidently reached, social distancing and other preventive measures such as face covering will be a “new normal” if workouts, practices and contests are to continue. 

Areas to Address: 

1. Administrative 

A. Preparticipation Physical Evaluation 

Due to concerns regarding access to primary care providers during the late spring and early summer, the NFHS SMAC released a position statement giving guidance to state associations concerning timing of the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation. Options vary from a one-year extension to keeping current requirements. State associations and their SMACs can also consider interim history updates by having students complete a form or having a telemedicine visit with their primary care provider. 

B. Mandatory Education 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of essentially all “in person” educational events. It is recommended that online education courses take the place of “hands on” or in-person training, whenever possible. This includes accepting online training courses for AED/CPR and First Aid for the 2020-21 academic year. 

C. Equipment Reconditioning 

The National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) has advised the NFHS that significant equipment reconditioning capacity is currently operational. If schools have not sent out equipment for reconditioning, they should be directed to do so immediately. If schools currently have equipment being reconditioned, a school official should contact the reconditioning company to make specific delivery arrangements if their school is currently closed. 

D. Conduct of Conditioning and Practice Sessions 

Phases are in accordance with guidelines published by the White House and CDC available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/. Please consult with your local or state health department regarding their plan for “opening up” your state. Not all states are using the same criteria, and what is allowable during specific phases will vary from state to state, or even within a state. Use the following as a resource in designing a plan for your state. Please note that there will be “gating” criteria to establish Phase 1 and the further criteria must be met to advance from one phase to the next. These criteria will be determined by state and/or local governments and must be strictly followed. 

Phase 1 

Pre- workout Screening: 

• All coaches and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout. Screening includes a temperature check. 

• Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19 (see Appendix II for sample Monitoring Form). 

• Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 

• Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any workouts during Phase 1. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• No gathering of more than 10 people at a time (inside or outside). 

• Locker rooms should not be utilized during Phase 1. Students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at end of the workout. 

• Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always working out together. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. 

• There must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased until proper social distancing can occur. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• There should be no shared athletic equipment (towels, clothing, shoes, or sports specific equipment) between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing) individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned after each use and prior to the next workout. 

• Individual drills requiring the use of athletic equipment are permissible, but the equipment should be cleaned prior to use by the next individual. 

• Resistance training should be emphasized as body weight, sub-maximal lifts and use of resistance bands. 

• Free weight exercises that require a spotter cannot be conducted while honoring social distancing norms. Safety measures in all forms must be strictly enforced in the weight room. 

• Examples (including by limited to): o A basketball player can shoot with a ball(s), but a team should not practice/pass a single ball among the team where multiple players touch the same ball. o A football player should not participate in team drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of tackling dummies/donuts/sleds. o A volleyball player should not use a single ball that others touch or hit in any manner. o Softball and baseball players should not share gloves, bats, or throw a single ball that will be tossed among the team. A single player may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as backstop, no catcher). Prior to another athlete using the same balls, they should be collected and cleaned individually. o Wrestlers may skill and drill without touching a teammate. o Cheerleaders may not practice/perform partner stunts or building. (Chants, jumps, dances without contact are permissible.) o Tennis players may do individual drills, wall volleys and serves. o Runners should maintain the recommended six feet of distancing between individuals 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 2 

Pre-Workout/Contest Screening: 

• All coaches and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout. Screening includes a temperature check. 

• Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19 (see Appendix II for sample Monitoring Form). 

• Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 

• Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any workouts during Phase 2. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• No gathering of more than 10 people at a time inside. Up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors for workouts. 

• If locker rooms or meeting rooms are used, there must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. 

• Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always working out together. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. 

• There must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased until proper social distancing can occur. Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained on sidelines and benches during practices. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• Lower risk sports practices and competitions may resume (see Potential Infection Risk by Sport below). 

• Modified practices may begin for moderate risk sports. 

• There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing or shoes between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned intermittently during practices and contests. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices. 

• Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. 

• Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar. 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 3 

Pre- Workout/Contest Screening: 

• Any person who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health- care professional. 

• A record should be kept of all individuals present. 

• Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors. 

• When not directly participating in practices or contests, care should be taken to maintain a minimum distance of 3 to 6 feet between each individual. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• Moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin. 

• There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing or shoes between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices. 

• Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, such as hockey helmets/pads, wrestling ear guards, football helmets/other pads, lacrosse helmets/pads/gloves/eyewear should be worn by only one individual and not shared. 

• Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar. 

• Modified* practices may begin for higher risk sports: oContinue pre-practice screening as in Phases 1 and 2. Shower immediately after practices/contests. o Re-assess epidemiology data and experiences in other states and other levels of competition to determine when higher risk sports competition may resume. 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) may be utilized but must be cleaned after every practice/contest. 

E. Contests 

i. Potential Infection Risk by Sport (modified from United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee – Sports Medicine recommendations) 

Higher Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Examples: Wrestling, football, boyslacrosse, competitive cheer, dance.

Moderate Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants. Examples: Basketball, volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, soccer, water polo, gymnastics* (if equipment can’t be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis*, swimming relays, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7 on 7 football *Could potentially be considered “Lower Risk” with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants 

Lower Risk: Sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors. Examples: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running (with staggered starts) 

ii. Transportation to events 

Schools must consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events for the fall. Social distancing (as required by state or local health department) will need to be maintained on buses/vans. Thus, multiple buses/vans and/or parental/guardian transportation will likely be needed. 

iii. Social distancing during Contests/Events/Activities 

a. Sidelines/benches: Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained on sidelines/bench during contests and events. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

b. Who should be allowed at events? Group people into tiersfrom essential to non-essential and decide which tiers will be allowed at an event: 

• Tier 1 (Essential): Athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, security. • Tier 2 (Preferred): Media. • Tier 3 (Non-essential): Spectators, vendors. Only Tier 1 and 2 personnel will be allowed to attend events until state/local health departments lift restrictions on mass gatherings. 

F. Athletic Training Services 

Given the coming financial crisis at the state and local levels, the NFHS SMAC fears that athletic trainer positions will be seen asa “luxury” and those positions will be at risk during the budgeting process. It is also assumed that athletic trainers supplied to high schools by hospitals and sports medicine clinics are also at risk as many medical clinics and hospitals have suffered severe revenue loss during the pandemic. 

Athletic trainers in high schools are positioned to play a vital role as sports return following this pandemic. As health-care professionals, they can take lead roles in developing and implementing infection control policy throughout the school. Whenever needed, state associations and their SMACs should promote the importance of athletic trainers in high schools and their role in injury evaluation, treatment and risk minimization as well as being a vital component of any return-to-school and athletics plan. 

G. Return to Physical Activity 

Current pre-season conditioning and acclimatization models assume that athletes have deconditioned over the summer months. The current pandemic may result in students being deconditioned for four to five months. The NFHS is currently involved with a number of other organizations in developing consensus guidelines for fall sports practices. These guidelines will be sent to state associations immediately after they are finalized and approved by all involved organizations. 

H. Hygienic 

i. Illness reporting 

Create notification process for all event athletes, coaches, event staff, media, spectators and vendors if the organizers/medical personnel learn of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the event. 

ii. Considerations for Officials, Coaches, Other Personnel 

1. Vulnerable individuals should not participate in any practices, conditioning activities, contests or events during Phases 1 and 2. 

2. Masks may be worn, social distancing enforced and “Hygiene Basics” adhered to in all situations. 

CONTINUE TO PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE 

• Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. 

• Avoid touching your face. 

• Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. 

• Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible. 

• Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit. 

PEOPLE WHO FEEL SICK SHOULD STAY HOME 

• Do not go to work or school. 

• Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider. 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS 

1. Wide availability of hand sanitizer at contests and practices. Participants, coaches and officials should clean hands frequently. 

2. Wiping down ball and equipment frequently. 

3. No pre-game and post-game handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps. 

4. Officials and sideline volunteers should be given option to wear face coverings (may use artificial noisemaker in place of whistle).

Return to local gridirons hits snags

By Maurice Patton

As summer workouts for Tennessee high school football teams gear up under local COVID-19 restrictions, squads in Maury County are still on hold.

“Right now there’s not been a decision made,” Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter said of plans for Columbia Central, Mt. Pleasant and Spring Hill to commence activities. “Our leadership is discussing a plan to reopen. Hopefully that will take place by the end of the week and we can let everyone know what the plan is for reopening and returning to athletics in Maury County.

“We’re still reviewing all options. The central office is reviewing the plan in its entirety and making sure it’s all buttoned up before we release it to athletic directors, coaches and the public to let them know what our course of action is going to be.”

By rule of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, programs cannot begin summer workouts prior to the final day of the previous school year. Tuesday was scheduled to be the last day for MCPS, though that day has differed for other systems across the state.

“When you see pictures of Alcoa and Maryville – they’ve been going for a week,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bronson Bradley said. “Over in West Tennessee, Peabody and Union City have been going for over a week. Those are championship-caliber teams, and they’ve been leading the way. There’s a reason they’re championship-caliber teams.

“Other coaches are calling and telling me what they’re doing, asking me what we’re doing, and we’re not getting any guidance. The lack of making a decision is what’s aggravating me the most.”

Teams were forced to improvise for spring practice in light of the pandemic, but no one was able to hold on-field workouts – leveling the field for everyone from Memphis to Mountain City. With some programs able to get their summer workouts started quicker than others, the frustration mounts for Bradley.

“When everybody’s in the same boat, missing spring practice wasn’t so bad when everybody in the region (5-1A) was missing spring practice,” he said. “Now that it’s getting fired back up, everybody in our region is starting June 1.

“It’s affecting Columbia and Spring Hill as well. I’m sure those coaches feel as frustrated as I do.”

Raiders coach Ben Martin concurred.

“I’ve been inundated with (social media direct messages) and text messages and phone calls and I don’t have anything to tell ‘em,” he said. “We’re at the mercy of the district. I understand this is unprecedented, that none of us has gone through anything like this. I understand they want to err on the side of caution. But it’s very concerning that other districts are being allowed to come together and starting and we’re not being able to do that yet.

“My biggest concern is, we basically spend June, three weeks in July and three weeks in August getting these kids ready to play. If that time is significantly cut down, I worry about the safety of our players. We have a lot of kids that have to go both ways, and it does take quite a while to get those kids in football shape to play. You hope they’re in shape and taking advantage of the workouts we give them at home, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that.”

Whatever plan comes out of the MCPS office — which will likely address the fall sports of cross country, girls soccer, golf and volleyball as well as football — is expected to have little to no input from the coaches expected to implement it.

“It’s obviously out of our control,” Central’s Jason Hoath said. “They’re meeting about it, figuring out the best possible plan for the safety of the players and everybody involved. We’re all anxious to get back to work soon. 

“It’d probably be good if they had everybody’s input. Football, girls soccer, volleyball – I know those are being affected, and each of our needs are different.”

Neither Columbia Academy nor Zion Christian have a clear path to a restart in place, either.

“We’re really waiting; the administration is trying to figure out what they want to do,” Zion coach Brad Lowery said. “We can’t do anything till after May 22; that’s when school is out for us. We could start in the weight room after that.

“After the dead period (June 21-July 4), hopefully we’ll be able to do everything, get back at it on the field.”

CA athletics director Pernell Knox said a tentative target date for the Bulldogs to begin workouts would be June 1.

“I want to talk to the coaches, make sure they’ve got a game plan, make sure we talk to the parents, make sure we’ve got the ample cleaning supplies,” he said. “I want to do all the research I can to make sure it’s safe for our kids and our coaches.”

Fox trot leaves openings at Zion

By Maurice Patton

One departure leaves Zion Christian Academy with three athletic staff vacancies.

Tommy Fox, who has served as boys basketball coach, softball coach and athletics director at the school, has accepted similar roles at Wayne Christian School in Goldsboro, N.C. Fox will rejoin former Zion football coach, AD and interim head of school Paul Brenner at the K-12 institution.

“Obviously we’re close from when we were back at Zion. I had the opportunity to hire him there and work with him there,” said Brenner, school head at Wayne Christian. “I just think the world of him. He’s great with kids, he’s a super head coach, I love his family – his wife (Tara) is a great teacher as well. We’ve just stayed in contact with each other. Not only did we work together, but we’re good friends. We went to church together.”

Fox, hired as boys basketball and softball coach prior to the 2013-14 school year, took on AD duties in 2017 — succeeding Brenner in that role – along with the girls basketball coaching position. He relinquished the latter this past season with the hiring of Emory Ujano, who was recently dismissed as well.

“I really wasn’t looking at all,” said Fox, 44. “We got presented with a really good opportunity. Any time you’re presented with an opportunity, you’ve got to take a look at it and do what’s best for your family. I didn’t know it was the best thing for my family when I got the call, but after a tremendous amount of prayer and some wise counsel, it sounded like a great opportunity.”

Adam Thomas, upper school principal, said the plan for filling four staff positions is taking shape.

“We’re discussing how all that plays out right now,” he said. “Finding a person that can do as many different things as Tommy is not an easy find. He did a lot of things and he was good at a lot of things. As much as I’m happy for him, I’m sad for myself and all the folks that are going to miss him. He’s a tremendous person to have at Zion and a tremendous loss.

“We’d obviously love to have an AD that could coach; that’s something we’ll look at. But a lot will be determined by who are our opportunities, and then who best fits the mission of Zion.”

Fox said he will remain at Zion through the end of his contract, which expires July 31, before he, Tara and their seven children head east.

“Zion’s a very dear place to my heart,” he said. “My kids love Zion, I love Zion. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and a lot of hard work, and I’ve coached some great kids. I’ve definitely been blessed by being here.”