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Saturday July 11th, 2020 11:22PM

GHSA: Group practice sizes can increase

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

On paper, it certainly looks like there was a positive development on Thursday for the possible return of high school sports in the fall.

Almost in coordination, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement saying sports and live performance venues would be allowed to open, with some restrictions, on July 1. Then the Georgia High School Association announced they were allowing group practice sizes to increase to 25.

Gov. Kemp released his statement late Thursday:

"Effective June 16, professional sports teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their respective leagues. High school and collegiate teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their applicable conferences or associations. Amateur sports teams and organizations must follow the criteria for non-critical infrastructure entities outlined in the order."

That came as the GHSA also released a statement as school systems wrapped up their first week back at practice after a three-month layoff due to the COVID-19 virus:

Statement from GHSA Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines on Thursday:

The GHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Council met Thursday and elected to increase the number of participants in each group from 20 to 25 starting Monday, June 15th with the following stipulations:

    1.    The additional participants added to the group should be new additions only.
    2.    Current groups should be the same individuals (including coaches) for each session with the exception of the new participants.
    3.    All current recommendations and/or restrictions are still in place.

Recommendations and restrictions are fluid and subject to change.  Safety must be our top priority.

During the first week back, most school systems internally had limited their group sizes to 10 as an extra precaution against COVID-19.

Gainesville High Athletic Director Adam Lindsey called it a positive sign for sure.

“When you take the two things together it’s very positive,” Lindsey said. “It’s been my belief all along that the GHSA would open everything up after the Dead Week so this is moving forward on that. The venue thing by the Governor is good but that doesn't really affect us right now because we take our direction from the GHSA.”

Lindsey said they will be transitioning to groups of 20 beginning on Monday.

“With temperature checks and the other things we’ll combine two groups of 10 into new groups of 20 and keep those together. Our goal is to have six groups of 20 fo football when it’s done,” he said.

“I’m hopeful, and it’s just my guess, that we’ll go to groups of 50 the following week (June 22) and then be ready for full teams to be together by Dead Week. That’s my hope and with these new recommendations I feel like we’re headed in the right direction."

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