GHSA to allow helmets next week; other restrictions remain in place

Dacula's Dylan Parr (5) puts on his helmet during the first half of a 2019 game. (Casey Sykes/Special)
Dacula's Dylan Parr (5) puts on his helmet during the first half of a 2019 game. (Casey Sykes/Special)

The Georgia High School Association is allowing football players to wear helmets next week for the first time this summer but keeping other restrictions in place.

GHSA executive director Robin Hines posted the small change Wednesday afternoon after his weekly meeting with the GHSA sports medicine advisory council.

'‘Schools must sanitize the helmet before and after each workout,‘' Hines said. “All previously distributed correspondence is still in place until further notice, especially no use of locker rooms.‘'

Those restrictions, designed over COVID-19 concerns, include a limit of 50 student athletes and staff per workout and no inter-squad scrimmages. Students must arrive already dressed out for practice.

Hines also posted that the GHSA and the council would be making information available next week about the protocol for the official start to practices. Those dates are July 27 for football and Aug. 1 for other fall sports.

Football’s first week is largely designed for continued conditioning and heat acclimation and remains restricted, but because it’s the first date that mandatory practices can be held, it’s a symbolic goal line in the GHSA’s effort to keep fall sports on schedule at a time when some other states are putting on the brakes.

Virginia became the first Southern state to call off fall football over the pandemic Wednesday.

Hines said earlier this week that he hoped to be on schedule by August, with practices running as they normally would.

The first contests in Georgia could be as early as Aug. 6 in fastpitch softball, Aug. 8 in cheerleading, Aug. 10 in volleyball and the week of Aug. 21 in football.