The entire AHSAA staff has been hard at work coming up with contingency plans for what high school sports will look like in Alabama moving forward in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While there is still a bit of waiting game, officials are getting closer to making some set plans.
The planning committees of summer activities, fall sports and football met with AHSAA Medical Advisory Board members Dr. James Robinson and Dr. Jeff Dugas, Alabama state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and assistant state superintendent Terry Roller earlier this week.
According to an AHSAA press release Thursday, Mackey and the Alabama Department of Education are hopeful campuses can reopen June 8 and start the 2020-21 school year as planned.
“With input from the committees, the ALSDE is creating broad-based health guidelines for when schools reopen,” the AHSAA release stated. “Each school’s number of groups, individual group size limitations (currently set for 10 per group) as well as health and safety guidelines for when schools reopen will be released from the ALSDE on or before May 22.”
Along with five other states, the department of education is developing plans for best practices to begin the school year, which should be released on or around June 19.
So far, the AHSAA has decided in accordance with its regular bylaws, mandatory summer practices are still prohibited but voluntary workouts will be under the jurisdiction of each local school. The schools must comply with the ALSDE and Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines once they are released, which could include number of students within non-interchangable groups and the overall number of groups.
The AHSAA also made modified evaluations for fall, winter and spring sports. It was previously announced fall sports can begin practice one week early if they did not conduct a spring evaluation period; this year, that means fall practice can start July 27 for AHSAA schools.
It also announced Thursday similar addendums for winter and spring sports for this year only. That includes allowing winter sports to hold a modified evaluation period — five days within a five-day consecutive period — during the first two weeks of school or start practice one week earlier, but not both. The same will apply to spring sports, which can host their modified evaluation periods any time after the first two weeks of school during the first semester or begin practice one week earlier in January, but not both.
Under AHSAA bylaws, winter and spring sports can hold a regular evaluation period — which is five days out of a consecutive 10-day period — after the completions of their 2020-21 seasons for the following year.
Several other topics were discussed at this week’s meetings. One of the things stressed in Thursday’s press release was schools being encouraged to prepare alternative plans for conducting physicals.
“Mass physicals on same day at one location appear very unlikely,” the release stated. “The Medical Advisory Board recommends students get a physical from their primary care provider prior to the first practice date.”
The Central Board has also canceled all summer competitions, which include play dates for volleyball, basketball, etc. and things like 7-on-7s and OTAs. Schools must host workouts, conditioning and drills with their players only, according to AHSAA assistant director of communications Ron Ingram.
Thursday’s release said AHSAA officials and committees will reconvene and provide an update after new guidelines are released May 22.