According to a memo sent May 15 to its member schools, the Ohio High School Athletic Association will be lifting its no-contact period for six sports, effective May 26.
Three of the sports -- baseball, softball and track and field -- are held in the spring, but OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass emphasized to school administrators that the spring sports postseason will not be held because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The OHSAA canceled the spring sports season April 20.
School facilities and buildings, which are not under the OHSAA’s jurisdiction, were closed by the Ohio Department of Health on April 29 as part of the “Stay Safe Ohio Order” that runs through June 30.
“Since Governor (Mike) DeWine announced (May 14) in his ‘Responsible Restart Ohio’ plan that certain sports will be permitted to begin on May 26, it becomes necessary to provide school coaches the opportunities,” Snodgrass said in the memo.
The no-contact period also will be lifted May 26 for golf, swimming and diving and tennis. Girls tennis is held in the fall and boys tennis is held in the spring.
Regulations for baseball and softball, which include numerous social distancing rules for participants, spectators and coaches as well as daily symptom assessments, were created by the governor’s office.
In addition, swimming pools and aquatic centers in Ohio can reopen May 26 as long as those facilities adhere to a series of guidelines.
As for other OHSAA-sanctioned sports, the governor’s office has not yet announced which sports fall under the “low/non-contact sports” or when other sports would be able to start.
The governor’s office also has put together a “Sports Leagues Advisory Group” to discuss travel and youth sports such as basketball, field hockey, gymnastics, lacrosse and volleyball, but no OHSAA representatives are on the committee.
“We have continued to use every possible avenue to be involved with ‘reopening’ Ohio’s sports, and while our communication has been acknowledged, we still do not have a seat at the table for the reopening,” Snodgrass said.
However, on May 18, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said he had spoken with Snodgrass earlier in the day and will continue to communicate with the OHSAA regarding high school sports as part of the “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan.
“We’re going to begin to coordinate with (the OHSAA) on protocols for training in preparation for school-sanctioned sports,” Husted said. “We know that this school year is nearing the end, but for the athletes out there, we know that training is a year-round process. We know that properly trained, properly fit folks -- it’s an important thing not just to excel, but to lower the risk of injuries and things like that.
“We don’t know what the school (year) and fall will hold at this point in time, but we do know like with gyms and fitness centers that non-contact sporting activities -- and training even for those that are contact -- that there are many ways you can do that that are safe. We know you want to keep that future in mind. Everybody wants to have something to hope for. Keeping ourselves fit and trained is important. We know the schools and parents and the student-athletes are looking to prepare for that future and we will work with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to develop protocols to make sure that we limit the ability to spread COVID-19. That’s the goal of everything we do, to limit the spread to keep people safe so we will begin the process of working with them on what that might look like.”