High School Teams Resume Practice

Coaches, Athletes Take Precautions, Await Decision On Fall Sports

As schools wait on a decision on the status of the fall sports season from the Virginia High School League, the Rockbridge County High School football team is beginning conditioning this week. Other fall sports teams at RC and Parry McCluer High School plan to start practicing soon.

A decision could come as early today, as the VHSL Executive Committee meets today and will discuss fall sports.

The RC and PM athletic departments both submitted health plans to the Virginia Department of Health after the VHSL ruled in mid-June to allow out-of-season practices once the health plans were approved. The VDH responded to the schools, giving recommendations and answering questions.

RC head football coach Mark Poston said the team was going to start on Monday by taking up forms and making sure all of their athletes had physicals, and they would be testing out procedures this week. The team had been using the online service Google Classroom to communicate. Due to social distancing requirements, there would be only 42 spots on the field for workouts at each session. Other RC teams were waiting on the VHSL decision on fall sports.

As a precaution, new RC athletic director Mike Gale said, “Each athlete will be screened (temperature check, screening questions) before participating.” If the students are not cleared through the screening process, they are to return home. Gale, who coached the varsity boys basketball team at Stuarts Draft High School for the last 14 years, replaced Rick Lollis, who retired as RC’s athletic director on July 1.

Addressing RC’s health plan, Gale said, “I think we have a good plan in place. I know the football coaches and players are excited to finally get started in some capacity.”

PM athletic director Mike Cartolaro said PM teams plan to start conditioning next Tuesday, July 21.

RC’s Plan Shared

Last week, Gale shared a copy of RC’s health plan, titled “Rockbridge County High School Return to Athletics Action Plan.”

The first section of the plan covers entrance procedures upon arrival at the school. Each student must have an up-to-date physical form. Forms can be obtained online at www.rockbridgeathletics.com. Each student must also sign a COVID-19 extracurricular voluntary participation form.

Students are to remain a minimum of six feet apart at all times and 10 feet apart when standing in a line.

Masks must be worn inside and outside upon arrival at the school. Once inside and the coach gives permission, masks can be removed if a distance of 10 feet between people can be maintained. Hand sanitizer will be available to students as they transfer from place to place.

RC will record attendance of all team athletes that participate in activities daily.

Any student determined to have a fever or symptoms will be isolated from other students until they can secure transportation to leave RC. Identified students may not return to workouts until they are fever free for at least three days without the use of medication. A student symptom checker, which the student can complete at home, will also be administered and recorded daily.

Students must arrive at their scheduled times and, if driving, must leave one space between vehicles. Parking should be in the senior/main parking lot. The stadium lot is off limits. Parents dropping of students must remain in their vehicles. Students must arrive on time (5-10 minutes early, preferably) and will wait inside cars until the previous group has exited. The coach will come to the parking lot to let the students know when they may exit their cars.

Proper workout clothing should be worn when the players arrive for workouts.

Once the workout is over, students must leave the campus immediately. When leaving the school, students must wear masks, and hand sanitizer will be available. No showering or use of the locker room will be permitted due to the inability to practice social distancing in those small spaces.

With outdoor conditioning, individual drills and training, no studentathletes should physically touch each other. There will be cone/line drill work, as well as heat acclimatization. To keep student-athletes at least 10 feet apart when standing in a line, 5-yard line markers can be used on the football field. Proper workout clothing should be worn, and shirts must stay on. Workout clothes should be washed daily and not worn on consecutive days. Laundry bags may be available for students not able to wash their items daily, and the school washer and dryer may be available for coaches to assist with this, but this must be cleared by the athletic director.

All activities/conditioning will be done as individual work, and players will not be put in a situation for physical contact to occur.

Players must wear gloves to eliminate physical contact with the athletic equipment from the start of the workout to the end. All athletic equipment will be sanitized after every workout.

The maximum number of people per outdoor activity, including coaches, is 50. The teams will try to keep smaller groups of 10-20 per field.

Runners will maintain the proper distancing (10 feet) during pre-training, training and post-training.

Golf will maintain the social distance and club rules set by the Lexington Golf & Country Club.

For the weight room, no more than eight players will be allowed at one time, one person per rack. There will be no spotting or physical contact between players. Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance, and all equipment will be sanitized after each use. Players will exit the weight room one rack at a time.

The gym will maintain a capacity of 15-25 people, including the coaches. Spacing in the gym will be determined prior to the offseason workouts and approved by the athletic director. Hand sanitizer will be available, and the entrance and exit of the gym will be maintained according to proper distancing.

The health plan also includes some general notes and reminders, such as washing hands frequently, bringing water since school water fountains will not be available, and using restrooms for emergencies only.

Spectators and parents will not be allowed to attend practice sessions or workouts.

All coaches will be trained on social distancing procedures before workouts start. Each coach, along with the athletic director, athletic trainer or central office personnel, will communicate with athletes and their families to review COVID-19 prevention measures to include hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, use of cloth and face coverings, staying home when sick, encouraging physical distance, sharing of equipment, student gathering and equipment sanitization.

The health plans will make the necessary adjustments as needed for the changing of the state of Virginia’s COVID-19 phases.