The outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has added many new responsibilities to the already-busy roles of high school coaches and athletics officials.
One of those that is becoming more important as schools prepare to welcome student-athletes back to campus for workouts? Cleaning and disinfecting workout facilities.
With a regulated return to workouts coming Monday for most local schools, guidelines mandated by the Georgia High School Association require social distancing be followed during workouts and equipment to be sanitized between uses to combat the spread of the disease.
That’s forcing schools to even think about how their weightlifting rooms are laid out.
“We’ll go out this week and mark off 6 feet distance in all of our facilities,” said Greg Linder, Murray County High School athletics director.
Both Murray County High and North Murray High School will be spending the first week of workouts strictly outside in order to purchase and stock cleaning spray, wipes, gloves, thermometers and masks and educate players on how to safely disinfect equipment while remaining distant.
“That will give us another week to get all those supplies,” Linder said. “There’s a lot of things we’ll have to do in order to get our employees ready."
When players arrive at North Murray, athletics director Keith Robinette said, coaches and staff will take their temperature and screen them for COVID-19 exposure with a list of questions sent out by the GHSA.
One players do begin working out, they’ll clean equipment between uses, then staff will clean the whole weight room between groups, then the school’s janitorial staff will do a “deep clean” every night after workouts have been held, according to Robinette.
All this while maintaining social distancing by working in small groups.
It’s a lot of hoops to jump through, but Linder said they’re necessary precautions to keep kids safe. With fall seasons still not confirmed to be happening as of yet, no one wants plunge the return into further doubt.
“We don’t want to mess this up and then have something happen where we can’t have a return,” Linder said. “We’re all on the same page on following the guidelines.”
Robinette said it’s been an adjustment to try to become an expert on sanitation in a few short weeks.
“This is uncharted territory, we’re just trying to be proactive in keeping our student athletes and coaches as safe as possible,” Robinette said.