On Monday night the Franklin County Board of Education unanimously approved a plan that gets student-athletes one step closer to the playing fields.
Put together by the Back to Sports Committee, consisting of high school and middle school principals, athletic directors, public health officials and school nurses, the FCS Return to Sports Activity Policies, Procedures and Guidelines was crafted for fall sports participants.
“This document spells out what sports can do what in different segments of competition,” said Superintendent Mark Kopp, adding it was composed based on advice by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Andy Beshear.
All activities are voluntary participation and no athlete will be penalized for not attending. Coaches must submit training plans to athletic directors for approval prior to leading workouts.
“Two people that really pushed to put this together are Don Miller and Tracy Spickard — the athletic directors at the high schools,” Kopp said.
The KHSAA previously announced that the regularly scheduled dead period (June 25-July 9) would be eliminated this year. Water fountains, training rooms and locker rooms at the schools will remain closed. However, heat index regulations still apply and coaches must monitor the well-being of all athletes and staff.
“Our athletes are eligible to return to some activity, but right now it’s conditioning more than anything,” Kopp said. “They can’t even use a ball right now.”
Prior to participating in any athletic event, all coaches and student-athletes will undergo temperature checks and must complete a health assessment on a daily basis.
“We have to ensure we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before they can come back, so we’ve placed mass quantity orders for hand sanitizer and thermometers,” Kopp added.
In addition, participants are urged to utilize outdoor space, and no more than 10 athletes and one coach can meet at a time. Social distancing should be enforced at all times and student-athletes are required to be spaced 6 feet apart during drills and practice.
Currently, physical contact of any kind is prohibited.
Coaches are advised to wear face masks at all times, as are athletes unless they are participating in training. Hands must be washed or sanitized before participating in any practices or workouts. Hard surfaces and equipment should also be disinfected before and after each use.
Kopp said the sports are designated as low-contact, which includes bass fishing, cross country, golf and archery, or high-contact, including football, volleyball and soccer, and have different guidelines and timelines for each.
“Obviously, it’s incredibly important that our safety comes first,” he explained. “Even in the low-contact sports where they can do more, all those safety guidelines have to be in place — temperature checks, proper sanitization, proper cleaning, masks.”
Kopp also thanked Judy Mattingly, director of public health at the Franklin County Health Department, and her staff for their help drafting the guidelines.