Coronavirus: More sports restrictions lifted in Ohio

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday skills training in all sports may resume in Ohio on Tuesday.

That clears up some confusion stemming from a week earlier when noncontact and low-contact sports were given the greenlight to return to play but no provisions were made for noncontact workouts (typically common in the summer) in contact sports such as football, volleyball, soccer or lacrosse.

>>RELATED: First announcement leads to some confusion

As part of the Responsible Restart Ohio program, the state released a set of guidelines and requirements for those wishing to take part in such training.

They include:

  • Everyone involved should do a self-symptom check before going to a practice or session.
  • Institution of a no-touch rule, meaning all individuals should avoid physical contact including high fives, huddles or close contact occurring before, during and after skills sessions unless the contact is for the purpose of safety.
  • Equipment and items related to the activities must be sanitized during the activity, and teams should not share that equipment
  • Social distancing should be followed with coaches designating space for each player to maintain six-foot spacing.
  • No congregating before or after sessions
  • No spectators are allowed beyond parents or guardians, who are also expected to maintain social distancing practices if they remain at the training site or facility

With the new announcement, all sports may have workouts, though games and formal competitions are only permitted in the low- or noncontact sports such as golf, softball, baseball, tennis and paddle sports.

The OHSAA indicated it will have more information for members soon.

After the governor's announcement regarding noncontact sports last week, the OHSAA told members that participants in baseball, softball, golf, tennis, swimming and diving and track and field could again work with coaches as of May 26, consistent with the governor's orders at that time.

The OHSAA also previously announced coaches and athletes in baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball are allowed unlimited contact as long as activities are voluntary.

For this year only, that replaces a rule that typically allows for 10 mandatory coaching days each summer in team sports.

No such limits exist for individual sports.

In earlier interviews, local high school athletics directors indicated having extra workout days in the summer would be important for coaches and athletes to make up for being idle in April and most of May.

“If June 1st happens and we get two full months, that would be wonderful,” Dayton Public Schools athletics director Shawna Welch told this newspaper in April. “We could pull off our first game and have no problem. I think we could probably go maybe as late as the end of June – the 1st of July – and still be ready for that first game, but that that would be pushing it, especially in football.

“In volleyball, cross country, girls tennis, those kinds of sports, we might be very easily be ready if it was like July 1, but football is the one that I'm concerned about having the most time because it's just such a taxing sport on the body as a whole. So we want to make sure you know that kids have had an opportunity to strengthen their bodies and use proper techniques and those kind of things.”

Others ADs, including J.D. Foust at Middletown, said even less time than that would probably be enough.

“I think we're all hoping that by July 1 everything is opened back up and we can start participating and working out with our kids, but before then any kind of restriction and guidelines we'll do and uphold so that way we get these kids back out there,” he said this week. “I know I got an email yesterday from my trainer: Premier Health has sent a bunch of guidelines for coming back to sports and what it looks like having kids check in, take temperatures and making sure they're keeping all their stuff separate from everybody else, taking showers before and after participation.

“So I know a lot of people are trying to throw ideas out there trying to say stay safe so that way the governor the OHSAA feels comfortable opening back up and letting us participate.”

In his announcement Thursday, Husted also said schools would be given control over when to open their facilities, another point of confusion previously, and OHSAA spokesperson Tim Stried said that allows the OHSAA to lift its no-contact regulations for all sports as of May 26.

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