By Hunter Chase
Moore County Schools have decided to delay the opening for summer sports practices.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) had given schools the opportunity to open practices on June 15, but explained that it was up to local superintendents and school boards to decide when they wanted to start the practices.
Moore County joins larger school systems, including Wake County, Charlotte-Mecklenberg and neighboring Cumberland County in postponing the start of practices until July 6.
“I think it was a good call,” said Jeff Hewitt, Pinecrest’s athletic director. “We had two reentry team meetings here to prepare for the restart and we felt like we were in a a good place. But you have to consider the safety of the student-athlete.”
Hewitt also pointed out that the NCHSAA kept intact the June 29-July 5 dead period (no practices) but had waved a dead period during the week of July 20-26. So that means instead of having a break there would be some continuity with four consecutive weeks of summer workouts.
Union Pines Principal Andy McCormick, who is serving as the Vikings interim athletic director after the recent death of former athletic director Bobby Purvis, said the decision was based on caution.
“It gives us a little more time,” he said. “We were going to be ready next week, but you need to assure the safety of the student-athletes and coaches.”
The NCHSAA has adopted a three-phase approach or a gradual reopening. They have released phase one while phase two and three will be released in the coming weeks in consultation with state leaders, according to the NCHSAA website.
Schools must have things like personal protection equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and digital thermometers available before workouts start.
“We will have the things we need by the end of (last) week,” said Hewitt. “The county has done a great job of supplying what we need.”
And for the student-athlete there is a lot to learn about the new rules in place for the restarting of workouts, starting with just getting the opportunity to participate.
The participant must have a physical examination form dated on or after March 1, 2019, they must provide answers to initial screening questions that must be signed prior to beginning summer workouts.
Then each day they must fill out a daily monitoring form and have their temperature checked.
“It’s like a check list,” said Hewitt. “It’s like a ticket to play each day. They must answer all the questions on the list with a ‘no’ or they will not be able to participate.”
The workouts will be like nothing ever seen before. Take for example football. According to the guidelines, there can be no more than 25 people, including coaches, managers and trainers, working out at one time if the workout are outside, 10 in an indoor setting. If one individual is detected with Covid-19, everyone in that pod must self-isolate for 14 days.
Wearing protective equipment is prohibited, and only conditioning and individual drills can be held. A player must not participate in drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with another player is not allowed. Tackling dummies/donuts/sleds must be disinfected after every use.
Or take volleyball. Each player must have her own ball. A player must not participate in drills with a single ball that will be bumped, served or passed to other teammates, according to the guidelines.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment,” said McCormick. “But, again, it’s about trying to keep student-athletes and coaches safe.”