Moore County high school athletic workouts and performing arts activities will resume Monday on a limited basis.
Activities will proceed under the phase one guidance issued by the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). Activities at the middle school level are suspended until further notice. Under phase one, athletic workouts to no more than 90 minutes and students’ temperatures must be checked daily along with symptom screening.
It requires extensive cleaning and infecting of facilities and equipment. The guidance also prohibits shared equipment, such as ball. The school system also says student-athletes and band members are encouraged to work out and practice at home if they can do so safely.
The announcement by Moore County Schools on Thursday comes two days after NCHSAA approved moving into phase two of its plan for summer workouts that will allow use of shared equipment such as balls.
The number of athletes allowed to participate in groups both outdoors and inside remains unchanged under the second phase, which takes effect next Monday, Aug. 3. Social distancing must also be maintained.
Groups must be limited to 25 people outside, including coaches and trainers, and 10 for indoor settings.
Moore County’s three high schools — Pinecrest, Union Pines and North Moore — have developed plans to resume limited voluntary workouts that adhere to NCHSAA guidelines
Pinecrest athletic director Jeff Hewitt said Thursday that the school plans to conduct all of its workouts outside.
“We are excited to be able to see our kids,” he said. “Our coaches are looking forward to seeing them back. We have a plan to do it safely. Our kids know how to workout, but this is going to be different. So our coaches will have to be patient in working with the kids to learn it.
“First and foremost, we want to keep our kids safe. We want to do things right.”
New Union Pines athletic director Chad Hill echoed Hewitt’s excitement about being able to allow student athletes back on campus even though workouts will be limited. He agreed that the safety of the students as well as the coaches and others is extremely important.
“It will be a tall task to follow all of the rules that are in place,” Hill said. “We are committed to doing that so we can continue working with our kids.”
Hill said the athletic directors of the three high schools have worked together on ways to safely resume workout.
“Monday it will be time to rock and roll,” he said. “We are ready.”
The NCHSAA allowed schools to begin phase one workouts June 15. Moore County, like a number of other school systems, decided to hold off.
While the NCHSAA has moved ahead on the second phase of its plan, it earlier announced that the start of fall sports games and competitions would be delayed until at least Sept. 1 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though Commissioner Que Tucker said it could be pushed back even further.
The Moore County school board’s decision July 21 to allow students to return to the classroom two days a week when schools open Aug. 17 clears the way for sports teams to hold workouts on campus.
Under phase one, schools must have personal protection equipment, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and digital thermometers available before workouts start.
If one individual is detected with COVID-19, everyone in that pod must self-isolate for 14 days.
Only conditioning and individual drills can be held and they can last only 90 minutes each day. Contact with another player is not allowed. Tackling dummies/donuts/sleds must be disinfected after every use.
Normally, full practice for fall sports would begin Aug. 1, and teams could begin playing games Aug. 17. Fall sports include football, boys soccer, boys tennis, girls golf, and boys and girls cross country.
The NCHSAA said coaches at 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.”
Hewitt sad the earliest Moore County would move to phase two would be after the first week of school.
The NCHSAA said workouts will be suspended — called a “dead period” — the first full week students are back in class to allow them to focus on academics
Hewitt said each of the schools incorporated procedures for checking in students each day to maintain social distancing and properly screen them to ensure they do not have any symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has contracted the virus.
Coaches will be provided an infrared thermometer to check students’ temperature each day when they arrive.
Because of the extreme heat and humidity, the NCHSAA also said all coaches must follow all of its requirements to ensure student athletes are properly hydrated.
Hewitt said students will be asked to bring a one-gallon container of water with them each day since schools are not allowed to hand out water bottles or have shared water stations.