GHSA clarifies summer rules on groups of 20, simultaneous workouts

Saying that he’s received “no shortage of calls, texts and emails” since lifting his ban on sports activities last week, GHSA executive director Robin Hines sent a memo to his 450-plus member schools Thursday clarifying a few rules about summer conditioning, which can begin June 8. 

The GHSA guidelines for summer workouts, released May 21, limit conditioning groups to 20 people. Hines clarified that the group includes any observers, including athletic directors or coaches who might not be present at each workout or not be taking a direct role in instructing.

Some member schools asked if they could have more than one group of 20 working out at the same time but in different parts of the school campus. The answer is no. Workout groups must be staggered if they are working on the same contiguous campus. 

“You cannot have a group from one sport in the weight room and another from the same sport on a field on the same campus,” said Hines, but he added, “If your middle school ... is on an entirely different campus/facility, a second group from the same sport could conditioning at that location.” 

Hines also clarified that athletes could not participate in conditioning for multiple sports. They must pick one. “There should be no student-athlete in multiple conditioning groups,” Hines said. 

The groups of no more than 20 must be for athletes of the same sport, and the 20-member groups must remain the same for the duration of the restrictions. Athletes and coaches aren’t allowed to switch groups once they’ve begun.

Workouts must be conditioning only, but Hines indicated that restrictions could be lifted eventually to allow training for sports. Currently, no balls, sports equipment or scrimmages are allowed as they normally would be in summer.

“I fully expect this guidance to change over time, but it will remain in place for at least the first week of workouts as we focus on conditioning rather than sport-specific skills,” Hines said. “Safety must be our top priority.”

Summer workouts are voluntary for the athletes and the schools. Official practices in most fall sports are scheduled for Aug. 1.

Sports activities have not been allowed in Georgia high schools since March 12.

GHSA guidance for voluntary summer conditioning (released May 21):

» Schools/school systems may be more restrictive than the GHSA but not less. 
» Workouts are conditioning only, no balls or sport specific equipment. 
» Member schools should prepare an Infectious Disease Prevention Plan prior to staff and athletes returning to conditioning.
» It is recommended that staff and athletes are screened prior to each workout.
» Signage should be posted on site with the following:
• Do you or have you had a fever in the last week?
• Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
• Have you been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19?
• Have you traveled to a “hot spot” for COVID-19?
» Groups of 20, including coaches, for workouts per sport at any given time at the campus/facility. 
» Groups should be the same individuals (including coaches) for each session to limit risk of exposure. Student or coaches CANNOT change groups for the duration of this guidance. 
» No use of locker rooms or shower facilities. Students should report to the facility dressed to condition and shower at home. 
» Weight equipment should be cleaned prior to each workout and sanitized between use by each student. 
» Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and readily available. 
» Each student should have their own personal water bottle. No use of water fountains or “water cows” is allowed. 
» Side spots only in weight training, safety bars are preferred. 
» Social distancing should be adhered to always and masks/face covering are recommended for the weight room. 
» At least 15 minutes should be scheduled between groups to allow for disinfecting the facility. 
» There is no competition allowed between schools. 
» No visitors are allowed at conditioning sessions.

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