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Contact-sport training can start Tuesday at Ohio high schools

COLUMBUS — High school sports are back — sort of.

A major hurdle, however, was cleared toward their full return Thursday afternoon when, during the governor’s daily press briefing, Lt. Gov. John Husted announced that “skills training for contact sports can resume on Tuesday.”

It had been previously announced that non-contact sports such as baseball, softball, swimming, golf, track and tennis could resume on this date.

Shortly after that announcement, the Ohio High School Athletic Association formally sent information to the membership with the decision and more guidance, including that the no-contact policy, which has been in place since March, will be lifted as of Tuesday.

Husted stressed that the decision to allow training is for just that. The OHSAA reiterated in its e-mail to the schools that “competitions of any kind” are not permitted.

That, for instance, rules out summer basketball, volleyball, soccer, 7-on-7 football scrimmages and games for the time being. There was no timetable as to when these competitions may commence.

Along with that announcement, Gov. Mike DeWine noted that the Ohio Department of Health’s order that school facilities around the state are to remain closed has been revised.

The order now gives each individual school district the right to determine whether or not the building and athletic facilities — indoor and outdoor — are able to be utilized by their teams and also non-school teams such as baseball and softball teams.

As has been the case with the announcement of other openings by DeWine, the return for “skills training” for sports comes with a lengthy list of protocols and rules.

Some of the notable mandates include:

¯ Social distancing must be followed;

¯ Coaches should designate space for each player to maintain 6-foot spacing;

¯ No-touch rule will be in effect (no physical contact, including high fives, huddles, etc. before, after or during skills sessions);

¯ Coaches and players must do a self-symptom check before going to the training session;

¯ Time should be allotted between sessions to allow teams to exit facilities and new teams arriving;

≤ Equipment and items related to the activity must be sanitized before, during and after every event. If equipment can’t be sanitized during the activity, only participants of a single team can use equipment and items related to the activity and opposing participants avoid touching that equipment; and

¯ All protocol in the guidance for gyms and other personal fitness venues must be followed.

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