The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has proposed a set of guidelines and protocols for the return of the sport this fall, keeping in step with restrictions put in place by the office of Gov. Mike DeWine during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The proposal, which is 38 pages and was put together by a committee that included coaches and medical professionals, has been presented to the governor’s office “as a working document that may require additional action.”
The OHSFCA said it “stands ready to work with (DeWine), his taskforce and the Ohio High School Athletic Association to ensure a high school football season this fall in our great state.”
The proposal details numerous protocols, including having coaches and athletes maintaining social distancing of six feet at all times while on the sidelines and on the field when possible, having players, coaches, officials, team personnel and game administration officials wash and sanitize their hands before, during and after games and allowing for coaches, team staff and officials to wear face coverings.
In addition, there would be limits to the number of non-essential personnel on the field during each game, dressing facilities for officials and teams that would be large enough for them to social distance and public-address announcements made before, during and after games to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proposal also outlines practice plans in which groups of nine or fewer would be placed in pods and staggered, along with daily temperature checks of all players, having locker rooms that allow for social distancing and limiting scrimmages to two teams.
During DeWine’s coronavirus press conference July 22, he was asked about the restart proposal and said he would be providing “additional guidance based upon what we’re seeing in Ohio.”
“Before we do that, we’re going to have conversations with them,” DeWine said. “We’re not ready to announce that yet, but everybody is concerned about young people, concerned about contact sports. We all want to see our kids and our grandkids in sports, whether it’s in high school or whether they continue to participate when they’re in college. We know the importance of this.
“Frankly we’ve got to get a little closer to this in time. We know that training is going on. We know that practices have to be taking place. We understand the timeline, but we want to see where we are and we need to get a little closer before we can make any kind of decision in regard to that. We'll be in consultation with a lot of the coaches. We'll be in consultation with the schools.”
According to the proposal, if an individual develops symptoms of COVID-19, he must be immediately isolated and the local health department would be alerted to help identify potentially exposed individuals. Each of those individuals then would be tested.
As a result of limited pods, exposure would be minimized to prevent the quarantine of the entire team.
An individual testing positive, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, may not return to activities until meeting the CDC requirements for ending self-isolation using either a symptom-based or test-based strategy.
“Coaches and administrators will work with the local health department to identify those individuals who were potentially exposed to help facilitate effective contact tracing/ notifications. This includes, but is not limited to, athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and other support personnel,” the proposal reads. “Athletes, coaches, officials or other individuals potentially exposed – within six feet for a consecutive time period of 15 minutes or more – must self-quarantine for six days following exposure. After six days, they may return to practice and competition if they have not shown symptoms.”
The proposal also has travel and postgame guidelines, as well as limiting attendance to adhere to social distancing.