The first cautious steps for the return of sports for youth and prep sports in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown will be taken today when facilities at Bryant Public Schools will be re-opened in accordance with State Health Department and Arkansas Activities Association guidelines.
At the city level, the Bryant Parks Department will open as well, giving youth teams, particularly baseball, a chance to begin practice for a truncated 2020 summer season.
According to the BAA’s Rick Brown, the BAA program will be smaller. Some parents who had signed up their kids to play have decided not to. There will be about 25 teams instead of 40. Games are expected to start on June 8.
The American Legion Bryant Black Sox, with high-school aged players, had already started practice in recent weeks. They are tentatively scheduled to open the season next weekend. Head coach Darren Hurt was still working on finalizing a revised schedule.
Here are guidelines set forth by the AAA and the Arkansas Department of Health:
FAQ- Regarding Phase 1 of the Return of Team Sports
The following interpretations are listed after extensive communication with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Health. We will continue to comply with the directives set by the Governor’s Office and the Department of Health.
When can a AAA member school begin summer activities?
AAA member schools may begin limited summer activities June 1. Please communicate with your local administration regarding when your school will resume activities.
Who is responsible for implementation of the directive?
It is the responsibility of the local school district administration to monitor implementation of the directive from the Arkansas Department Health.
Are the directives different for each sport?
Yes. The sports are grouped into two categories: Close-Contact and Limited-Contact Team Sports. Schools must follow the directives that specifically apply to each category.
What sports are in the close-contact team sports category?
Basketball, Wrestling, Football, Cheerleading, Dance, Volleyball, and Soccer.
What sports are in the limited-contact team sports category?
Baseball, Softball, Golf, Track and Field, Cross Country, Bowling, Tennis, Gymnastics, Shooting Sports, Swimming, Individual Dance Competitions.
Can you use a ball in the close-contact team sports?
Yes, with restrictions. Participants can use a ball as long as the participants maintain the 12 feet distancing.
The Close-Contact directive states that participants should use their own equipment if possible. Can they use school equipment?
Yes, as long as the equipment is sanitized between uses.
The Limited-Contact directive states that participants should use their own equipment if possible. Can they use school equipment?
Yes, if shared equipment is used, disinfection is required frequently during each event or between each use.
Do we have to wear masks in the dugout?
The directive states that face coverings are strongly encouraged.
Can we use handheld, rolling or stand-up dummies during football practice?
No. It would be impossible to sanitize each piece of equipment between each contact with coaches and participants.
Can close-contact team sports use agile dummies, ropes, ladders, boxes, etc. on the ground for agility drills?
Yes. All equipment must be sanitized between practice.
Do spotters in the weightroom have to wear masks?
The directive states that face coverings are strongly encouraged.
Is there a limit on how many participants may attend each practice session in close-contact team sports?
No. The number of participants allowed to attend depends on the amount of space available. Six foot distancing when inactive and twelve foot distancing when actively participating. The only exception to the 12 foot rule is spotters on the end of a bar.
Do close-contact team sports have to follow the acclimatization protocol as issued by the AAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee?
If a student is involved in more than one close-contact team sport, do they still have same acclimatization time limitations for practice?
Yes, the guideline regarding the time limit pertains to a student athlete per day regardless of the number of activities he or she participates in.
Can we wear football helmets during phase 1?
No. Availability and sanitation required make the use of helmets impractical during this phase.
How long are these measures in place?
The Department of Health has indicated that these measures will be reevaluated on June 30.
What are the ramifications of violating the directives?
The school could be placed on warning or probation by the AAA. Furthermore, individuals may be in violation of the Code of Ethics for violations of a state directive.
Is there a 14 day quarantine period requirement after a participant goes out of state?
Are students required to have an up to date physical?
Yes, by AAA bylaw physicals are valid for 12-15 months.
Can you have an open gym/field and allow students to shoot, serve, dribble, etc.?
Yes, as long as the directives regarding distanting, equipment use, acclimatization time limits and all other restrictions are followed.
For close-contact sports, what are the most important items to consider?
Maintain 12 feet distanting while actively participating, 6 feet while idle, masks are encouraged when not actively participating.
For limited-contact sports, what are the most important items to consider?
Maintain 12 feet distanting while actively participating in conditioning training, 6 feet while practicing, competing or when idle, masks are encouraged when not actively participating, use your own equipment when possible and disinfect shared equipment frequently or between each use.
Do coaches and staff really have to wear a face covering at all times?
For the limited-contact sports, can a school coach or registered volunteer begin practice now with a non-school team?
No. The current Special Dead Period remains in effect until May 30. Also, all school facilities should remain closed.
For limited-contact team sports that are allowed to return to competition June 1, what restrictions apply?
The current AAA Dead Period and the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-03 must be followed through May 30th. When the Dead Period is lifted after May 30th, the following AAA rules would apply:
- If the non-school team is coached or managed in any manner by a school coach (licensed coach, registered volunteer, or anyone affiliated with the school in any capacity), the athletic release form must be signed.
- No school equipment (uniforms, bats, balls, helmets, etc.) or school funding can be used.
- School transportation and facilities may only be used in accordance with school board policies as they relate to any other non-school groups using transportation or facilities.
- Graduated seniors who participate would qualify the team as a non-school team.
- School teams are teams solely composed of currently enrolled students from one district or attendance zone and coached by a school coach or registered volunteer.
- Each day of participation will count as one of the 8 allowable summer competition days.
- School equipment, transportation and facilities can be utilized.
We must be diligent in implementing these directives in order to return to play.
Do your part so we can all return to play this fall.
Effective: June 1, 2020
Directive for Community and School Sponsored Team Sports
The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, has sole authority over all instances of quarantine, isolation, and restrictions on commerce and travel throughout Arkansas, as necessary and appropriate to control disease in the state of Arkansas as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. §20-7-109–110. Based on available scientific evidence, it is necessary and appropriate to take further action to ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors in Arkansas remain safe.
On March 26, 2020, the Secretary of Health in consultation with the Governor placed limitations on public gatherings. This directive provides requirements for lifting limitations to community- based and school-sponsored team sports through a phased approach for both adult and youth athletes. Each phase has a set of General Requirements that apply across all team sports with specific requirements applied based on the nature of the contact required by the rules or conditions of the sport.
This directive does not include intercollegiate athletic team sports. This directive allows bands to practice marching and the use of non-wind instruments. However, due to the potential for increased production of respiratory droplets in wind instruments, they should not be used at this time.
- Maintain minimum physical distancing of six feet between participants at all times, except when actively participating in the sports activity.
- Athletes, Coaches, and All Staff must be screened prior to any activity by asking the following questions and excluded if the answer is yes.
o Have had a fever of 100.4°F or greater in the last 2 days
o Have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell
o Had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the
previous 14 days
- Coaches and All Staff must have temperature checked by digital thermometer prior to entry, and those whose temperature is greater than 100.4°F must be excluded.
- Face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are required for everyone 10 years of age or older for indoor sports. Face coverings are strongly encouraged for outdoor sports.
▪ Face coverings are strongly encouraged when not actively participating in an outdoor sports activity.
▪ Face coverings or masks must be worn during indoor sports where a face covering is not inhibitory. o Coaches and Staff
▪ Face coverings must be worn at all times for indoor sports and are strongly encouraged for outdoor sports.
- Use of communal spas, showers, saunas or other similar equipment are prohibited. Locker rooms may only be used for storage of personal items. Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained in the locker room.
- An alcohol-based hand sanitizer or adequate handwashing facilities must be provided for use by all attendees.
- Sports equipment, restrooms, lockers, water fountains and other high touch surfaces must be sanitized frequently during each event. For a list of cleaning products that will eliminate the Covid-19 virus, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n- disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
- Avoid non-sport related personal contact at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, huddles, high-fives, hand shaking, fist bumping, and chest bumping.
- For games, competitions, tournaments, meets, and other athletic events held in a facility, the facility hosting the event must follow the current Directive for Large Indoor or Large Outdoor Venues. Spectators are covered under these Directives.
- For training and conditioning held in an athletic facility, the facility must follow the current Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
- Concession Stands may operate but must follow all applicable sections of the Directive for Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations.
- Admission and gate ticket sales should be taken online when possible.
Close-Contact Team Sports
Example: Basketball, Wrestling, Football, Cheerleading, Dance, Volleyball, Soccer, Martial Arts
- Team practice and/or competition is prohibited due to the close personal contact that is required or anticipated. Individual practice is permitted.
o Team practice would include: scrimmages, simulated competition, or drills that require personal contact within 12 feet.
o Cheerleading and Dance may practice under the Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
- Conditioning and training may occur if the following conditions are implemented, in addition to the General Requirements:
o Group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever in an indoor or outdoor enclosed space.
o When using weight rooms, practicing calisthenics, running, or other conditioning training where vigorous exercise occurs, must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. This may require closing or moving some equipment.
o Spotters are allowed on the outside of weight bars on each side, for safety reasons.
Physical distancing must be maintained when not actively performing spotting duties.
• Individual practice participants should use their own equipment. This would not preclude activities such as playing catch where a ball is tossed back and forth between players as long as 12 feet of physical distance is maintained at all times.
Limited-Contact Team Sports
Examples: Baseball, Softball, Golf, Track and Field, Cross Country, Bowling, Tennis, Gymnastics, Shooting Sports, Swimming, Individual Dance Competitions
• Competition is allowed for participants of any age. However, participants should refrain from competition if:
o They are 65 years of age or older.
o They have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma or weakened immunity
• Practice for all ages may be permitted if the following conditions are implemented:
o Player group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever possible.
o When using weight rooms, calisthenics, or other conditioning training must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. (This may require closing or moving some equipment).
o Spotters are allowed in weight rooms on the outside of weight bars on each side, for safety reasons. Spotters are also allowed for gymnastics and cheerleading for safety reasons. Physical distancing must be maintained when not actively performing spotting duties.
- When appropriate, participants should provide their own equipment. If shared equipment is used, disinfection is required frequently during each event or between each use.
- Running events (marathons, 5 or 10Ks, and endurance races) are permitted. However, event starts must be staggered and starting places marked to maintain a physical distance of six feet between participants at the start of the event.
ADH will continue to closely monitor the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These measures will remain in place until data on the severity of the local COVID-19 epidemic indicate it is safe to further relax measures. This Directive will be reevaluated on June 30, 2020.