June 8 is the day.
This coming Monday, local fields could be filled with high school athletes returning for their first organized, school-sanctioned athletics activities since March.
Amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and the subsequent closing of school buildings, sports activities have not been allowed for area schools. An announcement from the Georgia High School Association a week ago approved a return to heavily-regulated workouts and conditioning work for schools’ sports programs, and local school systems have given the go-ahead for students to return to on-campus activity.
“We will go by what the GHSA says,” Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath said. “It’s up to the schools what they will do, we just sent out the GHSA rules, and I know they’re really anxious to get started soon.”
The GHSA released a memo to schools about the June 8 reopening that included a list of rules for teams in the initial stage of the return. Teams are limited to conditioning and weight room work, with no sport-specific equipment yet allowed, meaning no footballs or shoulder pads quite yet. Using locker rooms for changing or showering is prohibited, social distancing guidelines are in place, hand sanitizer is required and competition between schools is not allowed.
The GHSA memo stated that individual school systems must abide by the statewide rules, but that further measures may be taken at the school district level.
Whitfield County Schools is requiring no additional regulations for its schools on top of the GHSA rules, according to Gilreath, and Dalton Public Schools is doing the same, according to Pat Holloway, chief of staff of the city school system. Discretion is left up to the individual schools. Southeast Whitfield High School, Coahulla Creek High School, Northwest Whitfield High School and Dalton High School are all planning to resume workouts on Monday.
Christian Heritage School is also set to resume athletic activities.
In Murray County Schools, according to Murray County High School athletics director Greg Linder, workouts will be held only outdoors for the first week to allow further setup of indoor facilities and weight rooms for sanitation and distancing during workouts.
“We’re going to go ahead and start on a limited basis on June 8,” Linder said. “As a system, what we did add is that for that first week, everything will be done outside.”