By Drew Bergman
This past Thursday the KHSAA Board of Control voted 13-5 to eliminate the traditional summer dead period from the 2020 KHSAA schedule. The two-week period was eliminated in consideration of the fact that high school sports in the Commonwealth have already been on a dead period since the KHSAA suspended all high school sports activities just as the 2020 Sweet Sixteen state championship basketball tournament began back in March.
The 2020 dead period had been scheduled to begin June 25 and run through July 9, but the board decided that it did not seem the best use of time and resources to enforce a two-week dead period ten days after reopening from a two-month long one.
The KHSAA unanimously instituted a preparation period which began Monday and will last until June 15, allowing coaches and athletic directors (who have been barred by the coronavirus dead period from communicating about their specific programs) to contact their players about their plans for preparation ahead of the 2020 fall sports season. This time is also to be used by coaches and directors to organize their facilities and stockpile the necessary PPE.
The KHSAA continues to hold to Governor Beshear’s plans to reopen the state, with commissioner Julian Tackett saying, “Contrary to [the] belief of a lot of people out there, we don’t have the authority to do our own thing. The KHSAA is a state actor as an arm of the board of education.”
In keeping with the governor’s Healthy at Work initiatives workouts in high-contact sports (football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading) and practice in low-contact sports (cross country, golf) will be allowed to begin on June 15. Two weeks later on June 29 competition in low-contact sports can begin while practices in high-contact sports can begin.
The workouts and practices before June 29 would still be limited to 10 athletes and a coach and afterward be able to expand in size up to 50 people, which is still smaller than many football teams.
While the guidance does offer a picture of what practices and summer workouts would look like, the full scope of the fall sports landscape is still murky. The governor’s own planning for reopening only extends through the end of June and is contingent on the spread of the novel coronavirus to stay manageable.
In a document released by the KHSAA and available at khsaa.org/covid19june1tojuly12/ the KHSAA reminds, athletes, coaches, administrators, and parents that “Limited testing availability, lack of resources for contact tracing, and expanding knowledge of COVID-19 transmission could all result in significant changes to this guidance and the KHSAA and all state high school associations will disseminate more information as it becomes available.”
The document, “COVID-19 Return to Participation in Sports and Sport-Activities Guidance for High Schools and Middle Schools” goes on to state:
“Due to the near certainty of recurrent outbreaks in the coming months, schools and other sports organizations must be prepared for periodic school closures and the possibility of some teams having to isolate for two or more weeks while in-season.”
As part of the effort to control any possible spread, and to align with Healthy at Work requirements, all coaches and students are to be screened daily for signs and symptoms of coronavirus prior to participating in the activities and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more will not be allowed to participate.
The document goes on to provide that all participants should remain six feet apart, however two people are allowed on a workout machine at a time for the purpose of spotting and spotters should wear a mask or cloth face covering. Plastic face shields which cover the entire face are prohibited on the grounds that they pose a risk of injury.
This story will continue to develop.