VHSL announces phase 3 guidelines for reopening of sports, activities

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WAVY) The VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) released a list on Friday of suggested phase 3 guidelines for school divisions as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities this fall.

The detailed document outlines recommendations for athletic training services, team travel, event considerations, cleaning, face coverings, hygiene practices, and more.

Each sport is covered including minimal contact athletics to those that are considered full contact. The phase 3 section also discusses individual practice, team-based practice, skill building drills, and conditioning activities that allow physical distancing at all times.

The objective states that the document “is intended to provide guidance for schools to consider with their stakeholders in designing return-to-activity protocols in accordance with state and county restrictions. It allows for a coordinated reopening following the initial stay at home orders and may also be used if conditions dictate the need for increased restrictions in the future.”

Guiding principles include:

  1. Physical and mental well-being of students.
  2. Health and safety of all involved in sports: athletes, coaches, sports medicine, volunteers, school officials. Individuals who are at higher risk for severe disease should take extra
    precautions or sometimes choose not to participate. This includes individuals who: have chronic lung disease, moderate or severe asthma, serious heart conditions,
    immunocompromised or take immune-suppressant medication, severely obese, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or dialysis, or those over 65 years. CDC Guidelines can be found
    here.
  3. There is a near certainty of recurrent outbreaks in the coming months.
  4. Phases 1, 2, and 3 are based on disease prevalence and community transmission (VHSL Phases match Commonwealth phases). It is possible that a school may move up or down the
    Phase level. This movement, in either direction, will be dependent upon disease prevalence, community transmission, and guidance from local/state public health officials.
  5. Permitted activities may fluctuate based on which Phase the school is in. Permitted activities could include skill-building drills at home, team practice, within-team competition,
    competition with teams from a specific area, or full competition from different areas.
  6. Returning to activities should also take into account that most of the student-athletes will be deconditioned. They will require prolonged acclimatization and the progression of
    the intensity of activities. This especially applies to student-athletes with sickle cell trait.

The full phased document can be found here. More information can be found on the VHSL website.


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