Alabama High School Athletic Association officials and coaches addressed the opening of state schools and summer workouts for high school athletics amid the COVID-19 pandemic during a news conference Wednesday.
With schools opening Monday comes the start of summer workouts for AHSAA teams.
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said he’s counting on school administrators, coaches and support staff to follow Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines throughout the summer workout period.
Mandatory practices and competitions, such as 7-on-7 workouts and organized team activities in football, are prohibited this summer, however weightlifting, conditioning, individual skill development and workouts are under the jurisdiction of local schools.
Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines include, but are not limited to, limiting the number of students within non-interchangeable groups and the overall number of groups. Local schools may use a process to determine the student-athletes who make up the individual groups.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Savarese said there were three keys to Monday’s reopening: maintaining physical distancing at all times (a 6-foot circumference around every child); sanitizing facilities and equipment frequently; wearing face coverings.
Savarese said it’ll be important to allow student-athletes to acclimate themselves to the health and safety guidelines, adding that he encourages patience, understanding and flexibility as the state returns to normalcy.
Among other specifics discussed during the news conference was the question: What is the plan if a player tests positive for COVID-19?
Dr. James Robinson, chairman of the AHSAA Medical Advisory Board, said the first step after a positive test would be to place that person in isolation, which would mean that person staying away from school and the activities somewhere between 10 and 14 days.
Robinson said the next step would be trying to identify anybody who has been identified as a direct contact or close contact, which is six feet of for 15 minutes, so anybody that would be in the infected person’s workout group would be identified. He said if they were in direct contact, the Medical Advisory Board recommends that they be quarantined for 14 days to try to limit the spread, meanwhile monitoring symptoms. If no symptoms are shown within a 14-day period, they would be allowed to return to all activities.
When asked if fall competition would start as scheduled, Savarese said it’s too early to speculate on fall competition but that the fall schedule remains in place as planned.
He said the AHSAA will deal with current information and adapt to daily changes, adding that if the number of cases continues to rise in Alabama, “we might come under another Alabama Department of Public Health guideline that restricts us from being part of a school activity.”
“Right now, for what we have, everything is on as planned and I’m counting on each of our coaches across the state to practice these guidelines so we can have a normal fall activity,” Savarese said.