GHSA lifts restrictions on showers, locker rooms, group size


Georgia High School Association executive director Robin Hines lifted restrictions on locker rooms, showers and group size for summer sports conditioning Wednesday after his weekly meeting with his sports medicine advisory committee.

Hines also encouraged school districts to review and consider modifying their infectious-disease prevention plans when dealing with positive COVID-19 cases.

Differences in school district policy around the state have led some schools to shut down summer conditioning for two weeks in response to COVID-19 cases while others have quarantined smaller groups and played on. Most schools have reported no positive cases.

Those differences were in part responsible for the GHSA board of trustees’ decision Monday to push back the football season two weeks. Practice interruptions at several schools left some districts wary of committing to mid-August games, fearing their players wouldn’t be conditioned and ready.

‘‘I would say there are a lot of school systems that are more restrictive than (the Georgia Department of Education) recommendations, and those are local decisions that need to be made with local health-care professionals and departments of health,‘’ Hines said Wednesday after the meeting. ‘‘Take a look at it and adjust your plan if you feel you need to.‘'

Hines was more to the point earlier Wednesday on the “Georgia Prep Sports: From a Distance” video podcast with Score Atlanta’s I.J. Rosenberg.

‘‘These are local decisions, and they need to do what’s comfortable for them, but there are scenarios that would say maybe that’s too liberal of an application of the process to quarantine everybody because one has tested positive,‘’ Hines said.

The use of locker rooms and showers will be allowed provided that facilities and equipment are sanitized after each practice. Locker rooms must be used for dressing only, not congregating, Hines said.

Group size, limited in June to 20-25 students and staff and expanded this month to 50, is now unlimited.

‘‘Football teams can get out on the field with the caveat of social distancing as much as possible, which is lot easier to do on a big old football field,‘’ Hines said.

Scrimmages are now allowed but must follow the GHSA schedules. For football, that means beginning the week of Aug. 21, or two weeks leading up to the regular-season openers.

Football teams have one more week of voluntary conditioning workouts before mandatory practices can begin July 27. Practices with pads can begin Aug. 1, the date when fast-pitch softball, cross country, volleyball and cheerleading may also begin mandatory practices.

The first football games were pushed back Monday to the weeks to the week of Sept. 4. Other sports may begin as previously scheduled.

‘‘This has been the goal,‘’ Hines said. “Our schools and coaches have done a great job following their plans, and it’s time to go. We certainly will continue to minor and meet. With the action of the board of trustees this week, there’s a different calendar now and issues we need to work on. We’re just following the results of their meeting.‘'

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