By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials are responding to the ever changing landscape of student extracurricular activities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Regarding safety precautions being taken for athletics and other extracurriculars, Groveport Madison Schools Communications Director Jeff Warner said, “We are strictly following all Phase 2 guidelines.”
Following Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement on Aug. 18 that extracurriculars could proceed under set guidelines, Warner said all of Groveport Madison’s fall sports can begin play. He said spectators at the games will be limited only to the parents of the student participants and an electronic ticketing procedure will be put in place. He said Groveport Madison is awaiting more specific guidelines from the governor and the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine said an order from the Ohio Department of Health was issued to outline how sports, both contact and non-contact, may move forward in Ohio. The order applies to all organized sports in the state and includes guidelines for spectators. The decision for high school fall sports to be postponed to the springtime will be left to the school districts. This allows sports like football, soccer, and volleyball to move forward with a regular season and provide the opportunity for marching band to perform as well under safety guidelines determined by the Ohio Department of Health and the Governor’s Office, if approved by local school district officials.
Visit coronavirus.ohio.gov under “Mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club, and professional sports” to read the Ohio Department of Health’s order regarding athletics.
The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio High School Athletic Association earlier set two levels of extracurricular participation guidelines: Phase 1 and Phase 2.
•Phase 1 requires: Pre-workout screenings for sign and symptoms of COVID-19 including temperature checks, anyone with positive responses on the screenings may not participate and must see a doctor; Gatherings cannot consist of more than 10 people at a time inside or outside, including participants and coaches; Workouts should be conducted in pods of five to 10 people with smaller pods for weight training; Lockers rooms are not used; There must be a minimum of six feet maintained between individuals; Facilities must be cleaned regularly with plentiful hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing required; Shoes and shirts worn at all times; No shared athletic equipment and all equipment must be regularly cleaned between uses; and All students must bring their own water bottle and water fountains cannot be used.
•Phase 2 requires many of the same rules stated in Phase 1 with these differences: Gatherings cannot consist of more than 10 people inside, but up to 50 may gather outdoors for workouts; Six foot social distancing must be maintained between individuals and in locker rooms and on sidelines and benches; Lower risk sports practices can resume; and Modified practices for moderate risk activities can resume.
Groveport Madison extracurriculars
Groveport Madison follows the guidelines set forth by the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County Public Health, and the Ohio High School Athletic Association regarding extracurricular activities.
“We will continue to monitor the guidance of the State of Ohio, Franklin County Public Health and the Ohio High School Athletics Association,” said Warner.
Added Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros, “We are checking temperatures daily. We are working hard to keep our kids safe.”
When asked if the band is able to practice and perform, Warner said, “Band will take place as a class, both in a virtual and in-person format (when permitted to do so). At this time, there has not been a determination of if or how the band might perform while complying with the Phase 2 guidelines.”
Warner said theater and choir will continue to be offered in the master schedule.
“As with band, it has not been determined if or how they might perform while complying with the Phase 2 guidelines,” said Warner.
Groveport Madison High School Band Director Jonah Angulo-Hurtig said the band is fortunate right now to rehearse in small groups with social distancing, daily temperature checks, and soon will have instrument bell covers for additional protection for the students.
“We also will have opportunities for virtual band performance and rehearsal as the school year begins to compliment in-person rehearsal,” said Hurtig. “This situation is truly unprecedented and we are working to prioritize opportunities of music instruction and learning that students typically do not focus on while putting safety of our students as a top priority.”
He said a benefit of the small group rehearsals is that students receive more individualized instruction and instructors can identify points of improvement to help the students.
“We realize that this year will be challenging, so we will focus on as many aspects of our students’ musicianship as possible and are not too concerned about progress with our students working hard,” said Hurtig. “Music is extremely important for many reasons as we persevere through this global event. Music allows students to express themselves and share creativity, music is a wonderful social bonding experience as well as in our local community, and music can liven our students’ mental well being. We hear music in almost every aspect of society, and the opportunity for our students to continue playing in whatever safe way possible right now allows us to truly come together to get through this difficult time.”
Safety is a priority
The safety of the students and staff is the highest priority for district officials, according to Warner.
“Extracurricular activities are an important aspect of a student’s personal development and they most certainly represent a large part of ‘the high school experience,’” said Warner. “However, I think most people understand that we are in an extremely unique and unpredictable situation, where the health and safety of one another is the greater concern.”
Revised varsity football schedule
Instead of the usual 10 game schedule, the football season has been reduced to six games. Petros released the Cruisers’ revised varsity football schedule on Aug. 11.
The new football schedule:
•Aug. 28 – vs. Westland
•Sept. 4 – vs. Reynoldsburg
•Sept. 11 – @ Lancaster
•Sept. 18 – vs. Pickerington Central
•Sept. 25 – @ Newark
•Oct. 2 – vs. Central Crossing
•Oct. 9 – 1st round of playoffs. Site to be determined.