NCHSAA expected to increase number of athletes allowed to participate in workouts next week

— The N.C. High School Athletic Association will be releasing new guidelines for off season skill development after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced earlier this week that the state will move to Phase 2.5 of the state’s reopening plan.

According to the email to membership, the new guidelines will be released and go into effect on Sept. 8, with other updates being shared at that time as well.

Cooper’s new guidelines allow more people to congregate in one place — a maximum of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Currently, NCHSAA guidelines limit capability of workouts to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. To read the current guidelines, click here.

NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker gave a presentation to the State Board of Education on Thursday morning as well. In her presentation, she said the new guidelines mean the association will be able to change the number of student-athletes allowed to participate in skill development sessions.

“That announcement on Tuesday means that we can adjust the numbers of athletes that can workout, condition, do skill development with their coaches,” Tucker said, noting that the NCHSAA Board of Directors met to discuss changes on Wednesday night. The board must vote on and approve any changes.

In a previous email to membership, NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker announced a temporary moratorium on all scheduling and indicated she hoped additional information would be shared by Sept. 4. The ad hoc committee and the board of directors have been working with NCHSAA staff on specific plans for the upcoming seasons, including plans for conference and non-conference play, as well as how the state playoff fields will be determined and executed, but it’s not certain if that information will be released on Tuesday.

The NCHSAA has allowed workouts at member schools since June 15, with the permission of each individual school district, but schools must follow strict safety guidelines to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Many school districts remain in a sports suspension though.

While the NCHSAA guidelines are a minimum standard, school districts can impose stricter guidelines for its schools.

In August, the NCHSAA announced an overhaul to the sports calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cross country and volleyball will be the first sports to resume on Nov. 4, followed by swimming & diving later in the month, and basketball in December. Boys soccer and lacrosse will begin in January, football in February, and other traditional spring sports in March and April. Wrestling has been moved from winter to April, and indoor track has been canceled all together.

“The calendar’s there as a guidepost. We hope that we will be able to start sports in November, but we will continue to move forward with the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services, I’m in contact with them, our sports medicine advisory committee, they keep their finger on the pulse of medical information,” Tucker said on Thursday morning. “Education-based athletics is an opportunity for us to help the young people who come through our program be the citizens that we aspire them to be when they graduate from our high schools. Whether they ever play competitive athletics or not, we believe that what we provide them through education-based athletics has the opportunity to set them up to be productive citizens.”

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