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January 16, 2021

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OHSAA releases sport-specific return to play guidelines

The OHSAA said it is offering the recommendations with the objective of commencing fall sports seasons on Aug. 1

The Ohio High School Athletic Association released Wednesday sport-specific return to play guidelines.

The OHSAA said it is offering the recommendations with the objective of commencing fall sports seasons on Aug. 1.

The OHSAA fully intends to support its member schools and the student-athletes who desire to compete in interscholastic athletics and will continue to assess all areas as more information becomes available.

The recommendations are for varsity, non-varsity and seventh and eighth-grade athletic seasons. The OHSAA said participation in school activities is voluntary and every individual will need to evaluate the risk versus the benefits of athletics participation and immunocompromised students and staff, or those who live with family members with elevated health concerns, should evaluate associated risks of participation and may choose not to participate.

The OHSAA said schools should try to significantly mitigate exposure to COVID-19 by:

Maintaining physical distancing while not on the field or court of play

Requiring face coverings while not on the field or court of play

Reducing or greatly eliminating unnecessary travel

Reducing or eliminating sharing of common equipment

Reducing or eliminating contact frequency with student-athletes from schools and non-interscholastic programs outside of each school's league/conference or normal competition sphere

The OHSAA will also be including a pledge form that student-athletes can utilize.

Below are the recommendations and modifications for specific sport:

Football: The OHSAA will be using NFHS rule modifications as well as some of its own procedural changes. Changes include an extension to the team box to allow social distancing, ball sanitation, and limiting the number of people on and around the field. It is also recommended that intermissions between quarters and scores be extended. It is also recommended that pre- and post-game handshakes be suspended.

Cross Country: The OHSAA said with support from the NFHS Track and Field Rules COmmitte, recommendations are meant to decrease the potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.

Field Hockey: The OHSAA said it worked with the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee to outline changes and recommendations for the upcoming season.

Golf: The OHSAA worked with the Northern Ohio PGA's Junior Tour and the USGA to develop guidelines for high school golf. The OHSAA said these guidelines are not mandatory, but rather items for consideration for schools when planning for and participating in golf events.

Soccer: The OHSAA worked with the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee to develop recommendations safely holding soccer matches.

Volleyball: Working with the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee, the OHSAA developed considerations to decrease potential exposure to COVID-19.

Tennis: The OHSAA worked with the USTA to develop guidelines for before, during and after tennis matches.

The OHSAA said additional steps could be taken at different schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The organization said as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, these considerations could also become outdated.