Tuesday, 28 July 2020 11:59

BREAKING: NCHSAA unveils Phase Two of reopening high school athletics

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CHAPEL HILL — On Tuesday, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association unveiled its latest set of plans to return sports for the upcoming fall season.

Via a press release, the NCHSAA informed member schools and the media that its Board of Directors voted on July 23 to enact “Phase Two” of summer workouts and fall sports conditioning, which will begin on Aug. 3.

Like Phase One, the participation of student-athletes and coaches still rests in local school districts’ hands. Richmond County Schools has not allowed summer workouts to resume in any capacity of its six varsity programs, and every other of the seven Sandhills Athletic Conference football programs have not started either.

Moore County Schools, which is an SAC member, will begin its football workouts on Monday, Aug. 3. Other areas across the state that will begin Monday are Brunswick County Schools and Winston-Salem Schools.

Raiders’ head football coach Bryan Till remains “hopeful,” explaining he and all the other fall sports coaches at Richmond are meeting with RCS officials Tuesday to look at moving forward.

All coaches are required to bring their practice plans for how their respective Richmond team “will fit the new guidelines.”

“Please consult with your school and LEA administrators relative to local rules and regulations,” the press release said.

Phase Two is now the fourth step the NCHSAA has made in regards to reopening high school athletics. On June 15, the Association lifted the initial dead period and subsequently put Phase One into effect a short time later.

Two weeks ago on July 15, the official start date to the fall sports season was pushed back a month to Sept. 1.

Most of the guidelines between Phase One and Phase Two remain the same, but the NCHSAA did make some changes. 

The biggest thing teams are now allowed to do is share equipment between players and coaches in small groups, although the equipment must be disinfected each time it goes to a new group. 

For example, footballs, volleyballs and soccer balls, along with any other sort of sports equipment, can be shared in small pods of players, but has to be cleaned before rotating to the next group.

The NCHSAA highlighted to following as changes to the Phase Two protocols:

  • Sharing of equipment is permissible within small groups/pods.

  • Wearing protective equipment remains prohibited.

  • Equipment must be disinfected frequently, and it requires disinfecting prior to use by another pod.

  • LATs and First Responders are not required; however, as noted in the Points of Emphasis, they should always be included when possible.

For schools like Richmond Senior High School and the other SAC members that haven’t participated in any form of Phase One, the NCHSAA noted it’s “strongly encouraged to ensure a gradual return to activities, considering the condition of students who may have been physically inactive this summer.

“Additionally, it is important to ‘teach’ the daily monitoring protocol and ways that workouts will incorporate the ‘three Ws’ of mitigating COVID-19.”

The NCHSAA also addressed the recent “extreme heat and humidity” the state has dealt with, and reminded coaches they must follow the requirements listed in the Association’s handbook.

“The NCHSAA staff has worked with the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) on recommendations for member schools regarding summer activities that are in alignment with DHHS directives,” the press release read. “The Phase Two guidance is intended to help you continue or begin to navigate a gradual reopening of high school sports, while helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

“The Board of Directors understands that implementation decisions schools make this summer regarding sports and other co-curricular activities will potentially impact the upcoming school year. Thus, it is important that you adhere to this current guidance.”

In regards to the hopeful looming official start date of Sept. 1, the press release closed by saying decisions relative to that date will be made later in August. 

This is a developing story. ROSports will provide more information as it becomes available.

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 July 2020 12:26

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_