By Dedra Cordle
A hint of normalcy returned to the South-Western City Schools District last week as student athletes were welcomed back to their home facilities.
On June 4, the doors to the athletic fields and recreation facilities were unlocked and reopened after being shuttered for more than two months to slow the spread of a novel coronavirus.
According to district officials, student athletes and coaches at the middle and high school levels are now permitted to participate in individual skills development and strength training and conditioning sessions.
“While they will be able to participate in these activities, they will still have to abide by the state guidelines that no competitions, games, contact or tournaments will be permissible at this time,” said David Stewart, the district’s deputy superintendent.
In addition to these regulations, students and coaches will have to follow a number of guidelines in order to participate in the voluntary training and conditioning sessions, or even enter the premises.
The primary guideline that those wanting to access their school’s facilities is the signing of a waiver of liability. District officials say that no student or coach will be permitted in any skill development or training session until the liability waiver is complete and on file.
They will also be asked to check their temperatures at home and, prior to entering the premises, will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Should the student or coach have a temperature of 100.4 degrees, they will not be permitted onto the premises.
The same goes for those who may have been exposed to or lives with any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
Unlike in the past summer training sessions, there will be limitations on gatherings.
“They will not be able to gather in groups that number in excess of 10,” said Stewart.
He said workouts will be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 people working out together.
“That number includes the coaching staff,” he said.
Students and coaches will not have access to the locker rooms (they are strongly encouraged to come to the workouts in the proper gear and wash them at home) and large gatherings before or after the training sessions are strongly discouraged.
There will also be a change in the provision of hydrating drinks.
Stewart said communal water coolers and the use of water fountains will not be permitted at this time so they are requesting student athletes bring their own water bottles. Those who do not, will not be allowed to participate.
Facial coverings are also strongly encouraged during activities but can be removed when engaging in vigorous activity. It will have to be put back on once the vigorous activity has ended.
Stringent cleaning after the use of equipment and within the facilities will also be implemented.
The district’s guidelines are in line with others throughout the state, but unlike some they do not have any time frame for when contact sports will be permissible.
“I think we are going to be living in this phase for a while,” Stewart said.
He said should guidelines be lessened further, the district will reevaluate its stance.
“Right now, we are going to focus on this reopening and see where we are in about three weeks and make adjustments from there.”
Stewart said that he knows following all of these guidelines may seem excessive or overwhelming to some, but added that it was important that the district take as many precautions as necessary in order to keep the students, staff and community safe.
To read the full list of guidelines, visit www.swcsd.us.
In other athletic news, the board of education approved the installation of a synthetic turf baseball infield at Grove City High School at the June 8 meeting. The cost of the new infield is $260,291.
According to the board, the Grove City Greyhounds Athletic Boosters raised $268,750 for the project, which was then donated to the district. Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise said it is not uncommon for parents to raise funds on behalf of students for sporting build projects and donate the money to the district. Wise explained that it is done because the district owns the property and is able to receive warranty coverage on future improvements.