Rutherford County high school football and other athletic teams will be allowed to begin or resume workouts on June 1, according to the Rutherford County School Board.
"I'm happy with the decision and I don't think it's too early or too late," Oakland football coach Kevin Creasy said. "They've erred on the side of caution and we're handling all aspects of safety, and they've got a good plan. And the way they've set it up we'll leave July to the football stuff.
"We just want to see if we can get them in shape and then we'll worry about the football stuff. We know that we've got a plan to follow and we don't want to jeopardize anyone's health. We're all in the same boat and we have to eventually play football where it makes it fair for everybody. We have to be careful, and the concerns about the kids playing football, and we don't won't want to make it dangerous.
Rockvale second-year coach Rick Rice also was glad to hear his team can return to the gridiron.
"I'm just glad they gave us a date and a plan," Rice said. "I've got to admit that I'm surprised that we're getting back out there now, but I'm just happy we get to see our kids.
"I think as coaches, anything put out there for us to do we're going to do. There are a lot things we're not going to do until we get to July after the dead period as far as tackling. It's going to be interesting. Coaches are going to have to be creative. We've all been educated and what we need to do.
"This disease is scary. They tell us about one thing and then sometimes it's something else and is so mysterious. But the safety of our student-athletes is the most important thing. We've got guidelines and we've got to follow those because it's about our kids."
There are certain guidelines that each program must adhere to and are as follows:
1. Any groups meeting on Rutherford County Schools property must first obtain permission from the building principal.
2. Only participating students, coaches, trainers, teachers, etc. directly involved in the activity itself. No spectators may attend.
3. Prior to beginning activities each session, all students and staff should be screened with the following questions:
a. Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
b. Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
c. Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
d. Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
e. Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
4. If a no-touch thermometer is available, temperatures can be taken. A participant or staff member should be excused if his/her temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Participants should be offered flexible attendance in order to avoid sick individuals from attending events. If a group is unable to meet, or a student is unable to attend due to risk, group leaders should consider offering athome exercises or activities for the student to complete.
6. Social distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained between all participants, coaches, and attendees.
7. Groups should be broken into groups of no more than ten. Groups should spread out to additional facilities, or practices should be divided into sections to reduce the number of attendees to no more than ten total people in a group. Only 10 individuals may be in one area at a time.
8. All groups must provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant for all participants and attendees. Groups should also have disinfectants for surfaces available for frequent cleanings of touched surfaces, and prompt students to wash hands and use sanitizer.
9. Shared equipment such as bats, safety equipment, instruments, etc. must be disinfected between users.
10. Cloth masks are encouraged.
11. If any person is later identified as being positive for COVID-19, the group sponsor must contact Sarah Winters, the Health and Homebound Services Supervisor, as soon as possible.
12. All indoor spaces may only be utilized to the extent that six-feet social distancing can be maintained in all directions, and at no time should the indoor space exceed half its recommended capacity.
13. If indoors, open doors and windows as able to allow increased ventilation.
14. Locker rooms may be utilized for bathroom purposes only, but participants should enter in shifts to avoid contact. All dressing should occur at home, and all items must be taken home daily for cleaning.
15. Contained spaces such as dugouts, dressing rooms, practice rooms, storage rooms, etc. should only be occupied to the extent 6 feet can be maintained between individuals. If 6 feet cannot be maintained, the group must use an alternate location.
16. Pre-participation physicals shall remain required under Board Policy 6.402 if a student does not have an active physical on file for the year.
17. If the activity is under the direction of the TSSAA, all relevant TSSAA guidelines and requirements must be followed, including, but not limited to, the two-week dead period, graduated athlete participation bans, etc.
18. Contact sports should be avoided. Teams may practice drills, and other non-contact elements of the respective sport.
19. Band students should have their own instrument, mouthpiece, reeds and other equipment. Any students who share instruments between groups should be assigned their own mouthpieces. It is preferable for percussionists to use their own sticks and mallets, if possible.
20. Any school-owned equipment, such as sticks and mallets, music stands, color guard equipment, etc. should be wiped down and disinfected after each use.
21. Students and instructors are encouraged to follow basic instrument cleaning and maintenance techniques as described in the NFHS cleaning guidelines found here: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/covid-19-instrumentcleaning-guidelines/. Students should have access to necessary cleaning and maintenance tools that are not shared, including cleaning rods, swabs, mouthpiece brushes, etc.
22. Alcohol swabs and/or disinfectant solution should be made available to disinfect mouthpieces and equipment after each use.
23. All exhibitions, camps, scrimmages, etc. involving multiple teams, groups, bands or other entitird are prohibited until further notice.
24. RCS groups or teams wishing to travel out-of-county must seek approval from the relevant principal. The principal shall communicate with Sarah Winters, the Health and Homebound Services Supervisor, prior to approving travel.
Considerations should include:
a. The laws, rules and guidelines in place at the destination
b. The ability to travel with all participants socially distanced
c. The ability to find safe, clean lodging
d. The number and trends of COVID-19 cases at the destination
e. The availabilaity of medical services at the destination
f. The safety practices of the event and the ability to continue to comply with CDC guidelines.
The normal TSSAA rules will still remain in effect as all programs will have a dead period the last week of June to the = first week of July, which prohibits players from being on campus.