Weakley County Schools initiate Phase I of sports activities

Westview High School running back Marques Taylor

In a Zoom meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Weakley County Schools’ administrators determined the first of a three-phased approach to resuming sports activities could begin on June 1.

Middle and high school principals met with Director Randy Frazier and members of his staff focused on health and safety and agreed to the June 1 start for limited conditioning practice sessions.

Adhering to guidance provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH), the schools will engage in pre-workout screenings, facilities cleaning, limitations on gatherings, restrictions on physical activity and use of equipment, and will not depend on any shared hydration sources. All students will be required to bring their own water bottles.

“We recognize that the public would like to return to a sense of normalcy and that includes getting to enjoy and anticipate sports events,” said Frazier. “However, our priority must be the safety of our students and the community. We will move forward cautiously and will continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources.”

The NFSH’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) acknowledges in its guidance document that “all students will not be able to return to and sustain athletic activity at the same time in all schools, regions and states.” However, they also  underscore the belief that “it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition.”

Decreasing potential exposure to respiratory droplets drives many of the recommendations from the SMAC. As a result, cloth face coverings will be required during Phases 1 and 2. Exceptions are swimming, distance running or other high intensity aerobic activity.

Phase 1 is anticipated to continue for two weeks which would land near the traditional “dead period” from June 22 to July 5 where no practices or conditioning is allowed.

During Phase 1, Weakley County Schools will follow SMAC guidelines such as:

* Pre-workout screenings for symptoms and temperature checks prior to workouts will be mandatory and results recorded.

* No gathering of more than 10 people at a time.

* No use of locker rooms. Players must return home for showers and will be encouraged to shower and wash clothes immediately.       

* The same 5-10 students will work out together.

* A minimum distance of six feet between individuals must be observed at all times. If not possible indoors, then the number of individuals in the room must be decreased.

* Adequate cleaning implemented at all facilities and sanitization of surfaces must be maintained.

* Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after individual use.

* No shared athletic equipment such as towels or clothing will be permitted.

  * All equipment, including balls, should be cleaned after each use and prior to the next workout.

* Free weight exercises that require a spotter are not permissible.

Workouts will be evaluated every two weeks to determine when and if the teams can move forward to the less restrictive Phase 2 and 3.

Principals will next meet with coaches who will make the decision regarding specific actions needed to proceed with Phase 1.

“We want to make sure our players know that participating is strictly voluntary,” stressed Frazier during the online meeting. “No player should be penalized or face any negative repercussions because they do not feel comfortable engaging in even the limited sessions.”

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