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Friday August 14th, 2020 6:57AM

Football: GHSA green lights practice in pads Aug. 1; acclimatization starts Monday

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

The Georgia High School Association is moving forward with fall practice as outlined on its website. 

The governing body of more than 400 schools across the state says football teams will begin the acclimation process on Monday -- five days in helmets -- and shift to pads on Aug. 1. 

"The GHSA and the Sports Medicine Advisory Council appreciates our member schools' continued efforts in the successful implementation of the Coronavirus Guidance Plan," GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines said in a statement.

The GHSA has remained steadfast in its approach to keep the upcoming football season somewhat on schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it did push the season kickoff back two weeks (Sept. 4) on Monday. The good news out of the move is a full season is set to be played with a full five weeks of playoffs, ending in the finals at Georgia State Stadium Dec. 28-30. The GHSA did keep all other fall sports on schedule. Softball, cross country and volleyball are allowed to begin practice on Aug. 1.

The GHSA released its guidance for acclimatization and practice Thursday, leaving it in the hands of school systems to make the decision to participate as recommended. 

"Recommendations and restrictions are fluid and subject to change," Hines said. "Safety must be our top priority."

Below is the "Guidance for Acclimatization and Practice" with recommendations and/or restrictions:

  • Schools/ School Systems may be more restrictive than the GHSA but not less.
  • Acclimatization and Practice workouts are allowed as outlined on the GHSA Beginning and Ending Dates as published on the GHSA website: sports-specific equipment (including balls) may be used and should be sanitized between sessions.
  • Member schools are strongly encouraged to review and modify if necessary, their Infectious Disease Prevention Plan. The GaDOE has guidance available with recommendations created in conjunction with the Governor's Task Force.
  • It is recommended that staff and athletes are screened prior to each workout as outlined in
  • their Infectious Disease Plan.
  • Groups are not limited in numbers, but schools should consider limiting groups as much as
  • feasibly possible.
  • The use of locker rooms and shower facilities is acceptable with the following guidance.
  • Facilities and all equipment should be sanitized after each practice.
  • Social Distancing should be practiced. If needed groups should dress in stages.
  • Mask/Face coverings are highly recommended for the locker room, weight room and indoor athletic facilities.
  • Students shall not congregate in the locker room and indoor facilities.
  • Weight equipment should be cleaned prior to each workout and sanitized between use by each student.
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and readily available.
  • Each school should develop a hydration plan for all teams for safety reasons.
  • Side spots only in weight training, safety bars are preferred.
  • Mask/Face covering is highly recommended for Coaches/Staff at all times.
  • Social distancing should be adhered to as much as possible.
  • Scrimmages are allowed as outlined in the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws.
  • Guidance regarding stadium seating, concessions, venues and spectators will be coming later from sports administrators. Without going into detail, these decisions will be made on the local level with an expectation of including the Department of Health, local health professionals, and school district policies.
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