The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced Monday morning that the current dead period will be lifted, effective June 15, provided each Local Education Agency (LEA) gives its okay and permission to do so.
The association’s Board of Directors met via Zoom on Friday morning to discuss the latest updates from Gov. Roy Cooper and the Department of Health and Human Services, to guide member schools regarding summer activities.
The release also stated that it is to be understood that superintendents and local boards of education control when they will allow activities to resume in athletic facilities and venues, which have been primarily closed since the middle of March.
The Wilkes County high school athletic directors met on Tuesday night to work on planning for athletics reopening and have set July 6 as the date that it'll allow athletic activities to resume.
The initial plans are to start with fall sports only, according to the Wilkes County Schools Twitter account.
Wake County and Mecklenburg County, two of the state’s largest counties in terms of population, are also planning to wait and start on July 6 — the day after the NCHSAA-mandated June 29-July 5 Summer Dead Period expires.
However, for this summer only, board members approved the elimination of the NCHSAA Dead Period scheduled for the week of the N.C. Coaches Association Clinic on July 20-26.
The NCHSAA Staff has been working closely with the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) on recommendations for member schools regarding summer activities that align with NC DHHS directives.
The guidance utilizes a phased approach for NCHSAA athletes and is intended to help school administrators, coaches, parents, students and communities navigate a gradual reopening of high school athletic activities.
Despite the dead period coming to an end, NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said on the Adam Gold Show (which is syndicated on the WSJS 600 AM out of Winston-Salem) on Monday afternoon, that there are still a lot of questions still looming for high school sports this summer.
The official start of fall practice is scheduled for Aug. 1, but Tucker stated Monday that some of the lower-risk sports, such as cross-country, girls golf and girls tennis could start on time.
She also said there could be a scenario where some of the higher-risk fall sports like, football, volleyball and boys soccer, could have to wait to start their seasons.
“We do not know what the fall will look like as it relates to which sports we will be able to play, how many people will we be beyond the numbers game as it relates to physical distancing, which obviously comes into play when you start talking about your true contact sports,” Tucker explained. “It’s the numbers in terms of how many people can congregate in the bleachers, and for high schools, that’s a very important piece of it. So we don’t really know where we will be and whether we will open up in our normal fashion.”
The health and safety measures outlined in this plan were formed utilizing Center for Disease Control, DHHS, and NCHSAA information at this time. It is recognized, however, that the information and circumstances concerning COVID-19 remain fluid and variable.
In short, the guidelines are subject to change in conjunction with new knowledge of COVID-19 or changing social conditions.
Phase One contains a set of General Requirements that apply across all sports, with specific requirements for each sport. Guidance for Phases Two and Three will be distributed in the coming weeks in consultation with state leaders.
Under Phase one guidelines, all players and coaches must be checked for COVID-19 symptoms prior to activities, including taking their temperature, the NCHSAA said.
The NCHSAA will also forbid spitting, meaning sunflower seeds and tobacco are not allowed.
Also, teams are not allowed to travel together and are recommended to exercise in pods of students where the same 5-10 athletes work out with each other to limit exposure (a full list of the guidelines can be found at www.journalpatriot.com/sports).
Other restrictions for the first phase of return include having workouts of no longer than 90 minutes, with no more than 25 people at outdoor venues and no more than 10 in gymnasiums.
The NCHSAA has released only Phase 1 of three phases for the return of high school sports. The guidelines apply to all sports, and students must complete a physical examination form, initial screening questions and a daily monitoring form. All sports will be allowed to begin limited workouts, but there will be efforts to prevent physical contact and shared equipment.
Schools must provide hand sanitizer stations and clean surfaces after every workout. Spectators are not allowed in Phase 1 but parents can remain in their cars.
Schools and coaches are reminded that, per NCHSAA policy, participation in summer activities must not be required and cannot be a prerequisite for making a team.