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Back to the weight room: Duval County student-athletes begin working out Monday

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school athletes in Duval County can return to the weight room this week as the school district rolls out phase two of its three-phase plan to resume sports activities.

This is a phased approach to make sure student-athletes are ready to compete safely in the fall.

Among the changes from phase one: Groups of 40 may workout in outdoor areas. This number includes coaches and athletes. Previously, the limit had been 20. For workouts taking place inside a gym or weight room, the maximum is 20. No workout sessions may take place between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Balls are not to be used between players. Specific rules exist for some sports, such as:

  • A basketball player can shoot with a ball(s), but a team should not practice/pass a single ball among the team where multiple players touch the same ball.
  • A football player should not participate in team drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of tackling dummies/donuts/sleds. Jugs machines are permissible with coaches and players wearing gloves.
  • A volleyball player should not use a single ball that others touch or hit in any manner.
  • Wrestlers may skill and drill without touching a teammate.
  • Cheerleaders may not practice or perform partner stunts or any building stunts. (Chants, jumps, dances without contact are permissible.)
  • Runners should maintain the recommended 6 feet of distancing between individuals.
  • Softball and baseball players should not share gloves, bats, or throw a single ball that will be tossed among the team. A single player may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as a backstop, no catcher).
  • These same restrictions shall apply to other team sports such as soccer, lacrosse and flag football.
  • Tennis players may do individual drills, wall volleys and serves.
  • Swimmers can be in the pool as long as they maintain social distance.

All employees and students are still required to submit to daily temperature screenings when they arrive on campus and any time the student is showing signs of illness. If the temperature is 100.4 F or greater, the student will not be able to participate and may not return until they have been fever-free without the aid of any fever-reducing substance, for a minimum of 72 hours. Parents must also provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or clearance from a health care provider.

So far, there is not a set of guidelines for phase three, instead, the district says they will evaluate as phase two proceeds.

Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene has said she wants to make sure athletes are physically ready to play.

Earlier this month, the district started conditioning programs with strict safety protocols in place, including:

  • Limited group sizes.
  • Temperature checks.
  • Closed locker rooms.
  • Required masks for those entering and exiting the facilities.

June 29, limited locker rooms opened for weight training.

Duval County plans to return to actual practices on July 13. The first practice date right now is set for July 27.

This schedule should accommodate the Florida High School Athletic Association’s plan to proceeded with a traditional fall sports schedule. The FHSAA will announce as the school year if there are any changes to the schedule because of the pandemic.

High School athletes in fall sports in every Northeast Florida county are at some stage of preparing for competition as of Monday.

Flagler County was the area’s final county to resume, with Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas getting the go-ahead to begin workouts last week.

Even with workouts resuming there are still looming questions about high school sports like will fall practice start on time on July 27? Are games this fall going to be played in front of fans or at all? These are questions that will need to be answered over the next few weeks.


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