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AIA outlines return to play guidelines for state high schools
Prep Sports

A photo of the finished track surrounding Bill Shepard Field on the campus of Prescott High School. The AIA has released guidelines for schools to return to play at their discretion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHS/Courtesy, file)

A photo of the finished track surrounding Bill Shepard Field on the campus of Prescott High School. The AIA has released guidelines for schools to return to play at their discretion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHS/Courtesy, file)

PRESCOTT — In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that all youth sports, including high schools, can resume play in Arizona immediately.

With that, the Arizona Interscholastic Association released guidelines for schools to return to the field at their discretion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our priority through this is for the safety and well-being of all our state’s student-athletes and those that support them,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said in a statement. “We are not guaranteed to have a fall season. We are preparing to be ready on time, but it will all depend on how this situation develops as the summer goes on. We just ask that schools, coaches, players and parents consider and utilize the guidelines until we get back to normal.”

The guidelines, a 12-page document released to the media Thursday, May 28, outline a three-phased return to play, which, “Must be done so in the safest way possible.”

Some of the highlights include:

  • Stay home when sick;
  • Discourage spitting;
  • Daily symptom reporting of coaches, athletes and staff, including temperature checks;
  • Athletes shall be dropped off by one parent or guardian or drive themselves to and from practice when possible;
  • Shower immediately upon arriving home, wash hands after placing clothes in a place to be washed that other people living in your house are not in contact with;
  • Avoid physical contact, such as no high fives or fist bumps, and no hugs;
  • Use of cloth face coverings is strongly recommended;
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between all people present;
  • No water fountains;
  • Outdoor practice when possible;
  • Athletes shall have their own ball, additional equipment and protective gear; and
  • All gear shall be disinfected before and after training sessions.

“The recommendations are based on the phased reopening of the state outlined by Gov. Ducey, however, local public health authorities are ultimately in charge of their communities,” AIA spokesperson Seth Polansky said in a statement. “A recommendation by the AIA cannot supersede local ordinances. If a conflict was to occur, alternative activities may take place as long as they aren’t in violation of AIA regulations.”

Marty Campitelli, athletic director at Chino Valley, said he saw the AIA guidelines Thursday and said they look very similar to what is already in place.

“We’ll go through it this weekend, and get it out to coaches,” Campitelli said in a phone interview with the Courier on Thursday.

Despite phase one still being active, largely permitting for groups of only 10 people or less, among other guidelines, Campitelli said Cougar football is definitely a go for next week, with restrictions.

Campitelli admitted that although his coaches, staff and others will all try their best to follow the guidelines, things happen, he said.

“These are kids, though. They’re going to want to hug each other … How much can you actually police that? I don’t think you can,” Campitelli said.

Phone calls to Prescott Athletic Director Missy Townsend and Bradshaw Mountain Athletic Director Clairinda Weatherwax were not immediately returned.

For the full list of recommendations, visit dCourier.com.

Follow Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at bbergner@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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