AHSAA details rules during sports season cancellation

To better assist Alabama principals, athletic directors, coaches, student-athletes and parents regarding what is allowed or not allowed during the mandatory school closures, the Alabama High School Athletic Association provided a list of frequently asked questions last week that apply to all AHSAA member schools.

Last Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey, in consultation with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health announced that all public K-12 schools across Alabama are open only for alternate delivery of instruction effective April 6 for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the state superintendent’s follow up guidance, no face-to-face, in-person instruction, field trips, convocations or gatherings, or athletics will be allowed for the remainder of the school year. As a result, all AHSAA member schools’ spring sports’ regular season and championship events were canceled for the remainder of the 2020 season.  

“We understand the hardships and disappointments you are facing due to school closures, but also know, we are committed to putting the health, safety, and overall well-being of our administrators, coaches, and student-athletes at the forefront during this challenging time, and our priorities must focus on returning to a normal school year in 2020- 21 and graduating the seniors of 2020,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said in a prepared statement.

The statement said the AHSAA maintains its position on what can and cannot be done while schools are closed. All AHSAA member schools’ athletic events and activities including, but not limited to, contests, practices, weightlifting and conditioning are suspended until further notice. 

Here is the list of questions and answers provided by the AHSAA, regarding rules amid the stoppage:

Q: Can a school coach hold practice or work with student-athletes in small groups during the school closures? 

A: No. The mandated school closure is a “dead-period” for all athletic activity, even in small groups. A coach is not allowed to have physical contact with nor work with students during this time. Students are not covered under catastrophic insurance during mandated school closures. 

Q: Can school facilities be used if the coach is not present? [Ex. Three or four students want to use the batting cage or pitching machine at the school or come to the school to work out in the weight room.]  

A: No. Please refer to the guidelines of the ADPH. School facilities should not be used during the mandated school closures.  

Q: Can a group of students work on their own at a facility off campus as long as a school coach is not present?  

A: The AHSAA does not govern outside facilities but strongly supports the ADPH recommendations that gatherings of multiple people are highly discouraged. 

Q: Can a student participate in and outside activity in the same sport during this time? 

A: Because schools are closed, the outside participation and 50 percent rules (Rule I. Section 6) are not in effect during this time period. 

Q: Schools are closed, so what’s next? What about spring evaluations, summer practices, competitions, camps and fall practice?  

A: The AHSAA has created a Spring Sport Contingency Committee, Fall Sports Committee and Summer Competition Committee to develop contingency plans for spring evaluations, summer competition/camps, dead weeks, and beginning start date for fall sports. Plans will be provided once the AHSAA Central Board approves. (Please know, any plan is subject to change even after board approval in the event school campuses are not reopened during the summer.) Again, following the directives of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to protect our health and safety is — and should be — our No. 1 goal. 

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