N.C. high school sports moves into Phase Two August 3


CHAPEL HILL — High Schools athletics in North Carolina can opt for less restrictive workouts next week as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted last Thursday.

In the email sent out by the NCHSAA, Phase Two guidelines start on Aug. 3, but schools are to consult with their local school administrators before starting the new school year. 

The Wake County Public School System suspended athletics indefinitely July 10.

Many of the Phase Two guidelines are the same as the Phase One guidelines, including the number of athletes and coaches that are allowed to gather together for workouts.

Phase Two does allow for sharing of equipment in small groups or pods.

No protective equipment is allowed. The release said that athletic trainers or first responders are not required, but should be included when possible.

These guidelines came from the NCHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee that also fall in line with directives from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Phase Two guidance is intended to help you continue or begin to navigate a gradual reopening of high school sports, while helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the release said. “The NCHSAA board of directors understands that implementation decisions schools make this summer regarding sports and other co-curricular activities will potentially impact the upcoming school year. Thus, it is important that you adhere to this current guidance.”

“Coaches of schools that have not participated in Phase One are strongly encouraged to ensure a gradual return to activities, considering the condition of students who may have been physically inactive this summer,” the release reads.

Phase Two:

Facilities Cleaning: Adequate cleaning schedules must be created and implemented for all athletic facilities. Bathrooms, if opened, must be disinfected after use. Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility must be disinfected (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). Hand sanitizer (containing >60% ethanol or >70% isopropanol) must be plentiful and available to individuals as they move from place to place. Appropriate clothing/shoes must be worn at all times to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam must be covered. Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. Once facilities are cleaned – individuals must wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with water and soap; or, in the absence of a hand washing station, hand sanitizer may be used before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts.

Entrance/Exit Strategies: Must continue to develop strategies to prevent groups from gathering at entrances/exits to facilities to limit crossover and contact. Strategies include staggering starting/ending times, signage to direct one-way flow of traffic for designated entrance/exit and encouraging staying in vehicles until start of workout/practice

Limitations on Gatherings: Workouts/conditioning remains limited to no more than 90 minutes in Phase Two. Attention to heat and humidity factors is required. Gatherings in outside venues remain limited to no more than 25 persons. Gatherings in gymnasiums remain limited to no more than 10 persons. The gathering numbers, as mentioned above, include coaches, managers, trainers, etc. Drills or activities requiring the use of equipment during workouts should be conducted in pods of students with the same 5-10 students working out together weekly (same grouping each day) to limit overall exposures. Records must be maintained of the groupings to facilitate contact tracing, if required. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. There must always be a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual. If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased to obtain a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual.

Pre -Workout Monitoring: All coaches and students must be screened daily for signs / symptoms of COVID -19 prior to participating, including a temperature check. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher, or who reports any COVID -like symptoms must not be allowed to participate; must be sent home; and, should be directed to their primary care practitioner (Family Medicine, Pediatrics or Internal Medicine) for evaluation and potential need for further testing. Responses to screening questions for each person must be recorded and stored (see Monitoring Form attached). The head coach (or designee) is responsible for collection of the data from each day’s screening. Ideally this would be the same individual each day for consistency. Students or coaches who have a positive pre -workout screening must not be allowed back until they have a note from their healthcare provider indicating that they do not need to be tested or that their symptoms are not due to COVID -19. Students, coaches, staff considered vulnerable individuals, or those concerned with contracting COVID -19 should consult family doctor before supervising or participating in any workouts during Phase Two.

Exposure of an Athlete, Coach, or Staff Member to a Person Who Tests Positive for COVID -19: If a person on the team tests positive for COVID -19, all members of that pod and those who had close contact with that individual should:
1. Quarantine (stay at home) until 14 days after your last exposure, unless you have a negative PCR COVID -19 test.

2. Check his/her temperature twice a day and watch for developing symptoms of COVID -19.

3. If possible stay away from people who are at higher -risk for getting very sick or contracting COVID -19.

Athlete or Coach Who Tests Positive for COVID -19: The local public health authority must be notified by the head coach (or designee) to help with contact tracing. TO RESUME WORKOUTS, an athlete or coach must meet each of the following criteria: 1. No fever for 72 hours without fever reducing medications, since recovery 2. Resolution of respiratory symptoms 3. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared 4. A note of clearance from a licensed medical provider (MD, DO, NP, PA)

Face Coverings: State, local or school district guidelines for acceptable cloth face coverings must be strictly followed. There is no need to require or recommend “medical grade” masks for physical activity. Coaches, staff, managers must maintain 6 -feet physical distancing etc. should give strong consideration to wearing cloth face coverings at all times . (Be a role model!) Athletes are strongly recommended to wear a cloth face covering when not actively engaged in physical activity and maintain 6 -feet physical distancing. Face masks should not be worn during activities that inhibit breathing (i.e. swimming, distance running, or other high aerobic activity) . Face masks must not be shared. Plastic shields covering the entire face are not allowed during participation. Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm, can be used as a signal in place of a traditional whistle.

Hygiene Practices: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer often, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose. Dispose of all tissues. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces between use. No spitting! – e.g. sunflower seeds, tobacco, phlegm.

Hydration/Food: No sharing of water bottles. All students must bring their own water bottle, clearly marked with their name. Food must not be shared. Hydration stations (water troughs, water fountains, etc.) must not be utilized by individuals. Designate one person to refill water bottles when needed.

Team Travel: No team travel permitted during Phase Two.

Locker Rooms and Athletic Training Areas: Locker rooms remain closed during Phase Two. Students must report inappropriate attire and immediately return home to shower after participation. No students are allowed in the athletic training room. (When necessary, LAT must be present and appropriate disinfecting must occur a

School Weight and Mat Rooms: Weight and mat rooms remain closed during Phase Two. Weights, mats and other training equipment can be moved outdoors, only, if they can be spaced 12 feet apart. Any lifting equipment or mats must be disinfected between each use. Spotters must wear a mask. Maintain 6 feet distancing as is possible.

Spectators: Spectators are not allowed during Phase Two. Parents can remain in their cars, if desired. However, there must be no congregating allowed in the parking lot or on adjacent fields.

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: There must be no sharing of towels, clothing, shoes, or other athletic attire between students. Students must wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing); Individual clothing/towels must be washed and cleaned after every workout. All athletic equipment, including balls, must be cleaned frequently, and prior to use by another pod. Individual drills requiring the use of athletic equipment are permissible, but the equipment must be cleaned prior to use by another pod. Physical contact such as high-fives, fist/elbow bumps, celebrations, and hugs are not be allowed.

The start of fall sports practice was pushed back to Sept. 1 by the NCHSAA earlier this month. A decision relating to that will be made later in August, said the release.

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