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IHSA: High school athletes can start working out together again

The IHSA announced its ‘Return to Play’ guidelines and protocols on Friday afternoon. The detailed list includes several checklist items for any school in a Phase 3 region and is cleared to start practicing as of June 6, with school district approval.

The IHSA SMAC (Sports Medicine Advisory Committee) is responsible for creating the plan that fits within the framework provided by state leadership and at the same time will not compromise safety. The IHSA guidelines entails important first steps in allowing student-athletes to re-acclimate both physically and mentally to athletics. Most importantly, it allows each school to assess their own individual situation and determine if and when they want to proceed.

All IHSA member schools are permitted to open for voluntary strength and conditioning sessions only at this time. Each school district should work with their local health departments on current restrictions in their area prior to beginning contact. Prioritizing the health and safety of all students and staff must remain the focus of each IHSA member school.

The voluntary workouts are limited to three hours per day and officials encourage outdoor activity as much as possible over indoor workouts, to reduce transmission.

These requirements must be followed when conducting voluntary strength and conditioning sessions:

Maintain social distance by being 6 feet apart.

•Masks shall be worn when social distance cannot be maintained.

•Follow gathering guidelines of groups of 10 or less including the coach and medical personnel.

•Groups of 10 or less must be pre-determined

•Once groups are determined, students may not switch from one group to another based upon sport. Students that participate in multiple sports for the year are encouraged to be grouped, for summer participation, in their fall sport.

•Interaction between groups shall be avoided.

•Sessions can only include weightlifting, running, and exercises designed to promote physical fitness.

•Sport-specific drills are not permitted, and sport-specific equipment may not be used.

•Implement diligent and effective cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces following the guidance of the CDC and IDPH.

•Coaches must maintain a daily record of what athletes are participating, when, symptoms they may present

• Athletes should be monitored at start of practice for temperature >100.4F/37C or symptoms of COVID-19 (fevers, chills, cough, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell).

•If symptoms are present, they should not participate in practice and should be referred to a physician for evaluation and testing.

•Free weight exercises that require a spotter cannot be conducted while honoring social distancing norms. Safety measures in all forms must be strictly enforced in the weight room.

•Players shall bring their own water bottle, shoes, towels, and other personal equipment. The use of locker rooms, shared water coolers with cups, and water fountains will be prohibited during this stage.

It is the responsibility of each IHSA member school to comply with the above requirements. Additionally, IHSA member school sponsored camps, clinics, and open gyms are prohibited in any sport at this time.

If available, it is encouraged that Athletic Trainer or medical personnel be available for workouts. They should be masked for any interactions with athletes and maintain 6-foot distance when feasible.

Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate healthcare professional.

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