In a memo to superintendents, principals and athletics directors, the commissioner for the South Carolina High School League, Jerome Singleton, announced on Thursday, May 28, new guidelines for returning team sports during the pandemic.
Schools can begin summer athletics activities as soon as their district or administration allows.
The rules came from a task force of representatives involved in high school sports that created a three-phase approach to starting group activities. Representatives from the state and the Department of Health and Environmental Control assessed the guidelines.
Each sport belongs to one of three categories in the newly released guidelines, ranging from low-infection-risk activities to high-infection-risk activities. For example, golf and track are considered to be low-risk, soccer and basketball are considered to be moderate-risk, and football and wrestling are considered to be high-risk.
Phases two and three will be revealed at a later date. In order to get to the next phase, the previous phase must have been successfully met.
Singleton said in the memo that the goal of the guidelines was to allow in-person training and group workouts to begin while maintaining safety. He noted that schools still have the option to use technology to train students if they have decided to not allow on-campus practices. He said that participating in team sports carries an inherent risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.
Some of the guidelines for phase one include:
- Maintaining 6 feet of social distancing
- Daily health screenings
- Temperature checks
- The use of face coverings when not participating in a sport
- No use of locker rooms
- Staggering practices of multiple sports teams throughout the day
A number of families may not let their students start in-person training just yet, and other families have already planned travel during what was supposed to be summer dead weeks, Singleton said. In both instances, schools should allow student-athletes to return to practices without any issue when they do feel comfortable enough to return.
“Sports will most certainly be a tremendous catalyst for our communities to return to a much-welcomed sense of normalcy,” Singleton said in the memo. “We must be purpose driven in implementing these guidelines to return to play.”
The league planned to hold an online meeting on June 4 to discuss the guidelines in detail.