SCHSL releases 3 phase plan for sports return

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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About a week after the Georgia High School Association released guidelines for schools to resume athletic activities, the South Carolina High School League has released their guidelines. There is no ultimate date where schools can begin practicing again: it will be a district-by-district decision.

Part of the guidelines released by the SCHSL state: "The SCHSL taskforce is proposing a three-phased approach to begin when group academic activities are permitted in the districts and/or schools." There is some confusion about what constitutes "group academic activities." Aiken County and Edgefield County both do not have plans to implement in-person summer school courses, which would fall under "group academic activities," but there could be other interpretations for this.

The SCHSL also addressed that the district-by-district reopening process may create advantages for schools that open sooner than others. To help address this, the league stated that phases 2 and 3 (which have not currently been outlined) will supersede the provisions in phase 1.

"The SCHSL recognizes that all South Carolina students may be unable to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time across the state. There will also likely be variation in what sports activities are allowed over the next 9 to 12 months. While recognizing that county-by-county reopening may lead to inequities, the SCHSL advocates for returning students to school-based athletics to operate in any and all situations where it can be done safely."

Spectator guidelines will be addressed by the Governor and DHEC.

"The goal is to allow the athletes, coaches, and staff to begin in-person training and group workouts while maintaining a safe environment. It is imperative that if schools choose to begin implementing Phase 1, they do so under the guidelines set forth. Schools continue to have the option of utilizing technology to communicate and train student-athletes if they decide not to implement in-person, on-campus contact currently," SCHSL Commissioner Jermone Singleton said in a statement released to schools.

Additional information about the return to sports will be addressed on Thursday, June 4th at 2:00pm. The SCHSL will hold an online member schools meeting where schools can get clarification on any of the points.

The first phase is dedicated to workouts on-campus only. Any organized drills beyond conditioning is currently not allowed.

The full list of guidelines can be found at . Below is a summary of some of the points.


- facilities need to be cleaned before, during, and after use.

- proper clothing providing adequate coverage is encouraged

- exposed foam needs


- No gathering of more than 10 people (athletes, coaches, and staff) indoors or outdoors.

- Workout groups should stay consistent to avoid exposure

- Groups separated by facility (only one group per facility)

- Maintain 6 feet of distance at all times


- Athletes, coaches, and staff screened before each session

- Keep log of information screening to check for symptom development

- Anyone with positive screenings should not be allowed to participate and is encouraged to get tested before returning


- Follow local guidelines

- Masks encouraged when athletes are not participating

- Coaches and staff should always wear masks

- Plastic shields not allowed


- No hoses or water cows

- Everyone brings their own water and food


- Limit travel as much as possible

- When traveling, make best effort to stay local


- Do not allow consecutive stall use. Block every other stall to encourage social distance

- Locker room use is not permitted

- Facility showers cannot be used

- No students allowed in training areas without the presence of an athletic trainer

The league also classified each of its sports based on risk. Cross county, track & field, swimming, golf, and tennis were all classified as low risk. Volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball were classified as medium risk. Football, wrestling, competitive cheer, and lacrosse were all identified as high risk for transmission due to factors including proximity and lack of safety barriers.

By comparison, the GHSA's guidelines follow many similar traits. The reopening is specifically for workouts right now: balls or specific equipment like blocker pads in football is not allowed. Utilizing the same groups on a daily basis is also encouraged. Constant sanitation/disinfecting and no mass watering equipment (hoses, troughs, water cows), is also shared. Locker room and shower use is also prohibited. Masks are encouraged in the weight room as well.

The GHSA's guidelines differ in the amount of players allowed (20), and the June 8th opening date regardless of school district.

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