NORTH METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — Though it will be far from the status quo, the Georgia High School Association Board of Trustees voted Thursday to permit schools to begin summer conditioning June 8.
The move will give schools the option to permit summer workouts and open doors to their weight rooms for the first time in months, but the decision to allow activities will be left up to individual schools.
The GHSA Board of Trustees and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee outlined regulations to which schools must adhere to allow workouts. The document states that schools or school systems may be more restrictive than the GHSA’s regulations, but not less.
The document outlines that only workouts and conditioning is permitted. No equipment, including balls, bats or sleds, can be used. There are also recommendations for each school to prepare an infectious disease prevention plan before workouts begin and that staff and athletes should be screened prior to each workout.
“This is strictly conditioning,” Fulton County Schools Athletic Director Steven Craft said. “This is only for student athletes to get back into shape and be prepared for what is hopefully a normal start date in the fall.”
Groups will be limited to 20 total persons, including athletes and staff, per sport, and individuals will not be permitted to change groups “for the duration of this guidance.”
Showers and locker rooms will remain closed and weight equipment should be cleaned prior to each workout and between use by each individual, the document states.
The guidelines also recommend having hand sanitizer readily available, that masks be worn in weight rooms and each student should have a personal water bottle.
The GHSA also outlined four questions that should be asked of all participants, including whether they have had a fever in the last week or have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. If an athlete answers yes to any of the four questions, they should not participate in any workouts for 14 days, the document advises.
Originally the GHSA considered a start date of June 1, but Craft said many on the Board of Trustees were “hesitant” to start that early. The added week will give schools and coaches extra time to formulate plans to implement the new safety measures.
“The limit on groups is 20, so if you have two coaches for each and a football team that has 100 players, you have got to have six groups to comply,” Craft said. “That’s just football. Factor in the other programs and your approach from a facilities standpoint. The extra week gives you ample time to make sure you have your processes locked and loaded…to bring your student athletes and staff back in the safest environment possible.”
GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines sent an email to all member schools Thursday urging school officials to follow the recommendations.
Craft said the GHSA’s move shows the organization is committed to moving forward in a safe manner.
“There is going to be a culture of clean, and a lot of things will be different,” Craft said. “But I think people will be excited about the guidelines and creating the best plan possible to have staff and students safe in their return. There is a lot of excitement moving toward what will hopefully be a normal fall season.”