PORTSMOUTH — Indeed, what a difference a week made for the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the state’s student-athletes.
That’s because, on Thursday as part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s daily press briefing in response to the coronavirus threat, the state and the OHSAA announced that they are in agreement to once again begin in-person skills training at school district facilities.
In other words, that dark cloud better known as the OHSAA’s mandatory dead period which has been in place since March 16 and extended twice since will officially be lifted following the Memorial Day weekend.
On a busy Thursday afternoon involving the situation, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced that the state and the OHSAA have agreed to allow —starting on Tuesday, May 26 —ALL student-athletes to begin individual skills training at school facilities, BUT at the discretion of individual school districts.
A mere hour or so later, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass informed member schools via memo that the no-contact period for ALL sanctioned sports is being removed — as of that same date.
Hence, ALL sports —whether they are classified as “no contact” “low contact” or “full contact” —will once again permit skills training.
Skills training is defined and the mandated and recommended restrictions are posted at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Skills-Training-All%20Sports.pdf —as the six feet of social distancing rule applies to all players, coaches and parents.
No additional spectators are permitted at the training facilities.
In addition, Snodgrass wrote in that same memo that “the permissions for the sports announced today (Thursday, May 21) are for SKILL TRAINING ONLY. Today’s announcement does NOT permit competitions of any kind and there has been no date set for when competitions in these sports may begin.”.
“While the plans for the school year in the fall are still being discussed, we do know that skills training and conditioning for student-athletes is important to start now,” said Husted. “Proper training and conditioning are not only essential for skill development, but they can also properly condition athletes to reduce their risk for injury. This was a joint effort between our working group that was looking at the these issues and the Ohio High School Athletic Association.”
But, it took perhaps an airing of grievances on the OHSAA’s part to bring the association and the state together.
To the surprise of Snodgrass, DeWine and Husted announced last Thursday (May 14) that sports classified as “low contact” or “no contact” — including baseball, softball, tennis and golf — can resume on May 26, which coincides with the reopening date for fitness facilities and swimming pools.
In a memo to member schools the next day, Snodgrass officially lifted (to take effect on May 26) the mandatory dead period for six sports — baseball, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, tennis and golf.
However, its no-contact period remained in effect for ALL other sports — until at least thru May 31.
In that same May 15 memo, Snodgrass wrote “we have continued to use every possible avenue to be involved with reopening Ohio’s sports, and while our communication has been acknowledged, we still do not have a seat at the table for the reopening”.
Husted said on Monday that he and Snodgrass specifically discussed the subject of high schools earlier that morning (May 18).
The OHSAA, on April 30, extended its dead period to cover the entire month of May — in conjunction with an order invoked the day before from the Ohio Department of Health, which closed ALL school buildings in the state of Ohio until at least July 1.
That order, officially overseen by ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton, “shall remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this order.”
“That order did not address and did not involve school-related sporting activities,” said Husted, on Monday. “We are going to begin to coordinate with them (OHSAA) on protocols for training in preparation for school-sanctioned sports. We know that this school year (2019-20) is nearing the end, but for the athletes out there, we know that training is a year-round process.”
Since then, the school closure order has been amended — as now individual school districts have control over their own athletic facilities, both outdoor and indoor.
While Husted said the school year is “nearing the end”, Snodgrass said that the 2019-20 academic year is indeed complete.
Snodgrass then reminded member schools “that all events after the conclusion of the spring sports season are considered ‘non-school events.’”
“While many club/travel/youth programs reach out to us, we remind them to check with their respective organizations for their own guidance,” he wrote.
In the May 15 memo, Snodgrass wrote that the OHSAA Board of Directors discussed and approved the summer coaching time frame for team sports in the 2020-21 academic year —waiving the traditional 10-day coaching restriction in the process.
The coaches’ contact period for this summer stretches from May 26 thru Aug. 31.
Additional information, Snodgrass wrote, “will be provided to member schools by early next week with guidance on fall eligibility and other items that impact school athletic programs.”
But for now, what a difference a week made for the OHSAA and the state’s student-athletes.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved