As the official end of the spring season came Thursday afternoon when schools were closed for the remainder of the school year, there were also a lot of questions that still needed answered.
Although the AHSAA does not have all the answers at this time — understandably so — it released a statement Friday morning hoping to bring some clarification.
“We understand the hardships and disappointments (everyone is) facing due to school closures,” the statement reads, “but also know, we are committed to putting the health, safety and overall well-being of our administrators, coaches and student-athletes at the forefront during this challenging time, and our priorities must focus on returning to a normal school year in 2020-21 and graduating the seniors of 2020.”
It went on to answer some frequently asked questions, the first clarifying coaches cannot hold any time of practice during the school closures, even in small groups. In fact, coaches may not have physical contact with nor work with students during this time.
A major reasoning for this is because student-athletes are not covered under catastrophic insurance during mandated school closures.
It also specified students cannot use school facilities during this time even without a coach present.
Although students can technically work together at an off-school site, Gov. Kay Ivey did mandate Friday gatherings should be kept to 10 or fewer people but the AHSAA’s statement did reiterate to use caution.
“The AHSAA does not govern outside facilities but strongly supports the (Alabama Department of Public Health) recommendations that gatherings of multiple people are highly discouraged,” the statement read.
It also said during the times schools are closed, the outside participation and 50% rules are not in effect. The outside participation rule mandates student-athletes cannot compete in a non-school team in the same sport during the school season of that sport.
The 50% rule states, “Participation during the school year on a non-school team outside the school season by students that will play the following season on the same high school varsity or junior varsity/B team (grades 7-12) is limited to 50% of the number of players required to play the game.”
Although the AHSAA did make some clarifications Friday, there are still a lot of questions to be answered and it is forming plans as soon as possible.
In the release, it stated the AHSAA has created a spring sport contingency committee; fall sports committee; and summer competition committee to develop contingency plans for spring evaluations, summer competitions and camps, dead weeks and the start date for fall sports.
The plans will be released once the AHSAA central board approves them but they can also be subject to change if school campuses are not reopened during the summer.
“Again, the following directives of the (ADPH) to protect our health and safety is — and should be — our No. 1 goal,” the statement reads. “We will not eradicate this disease unless we all cooperate with healthcare professionals, maintain our social distance and continue to pray for God’s assistance.”
AHSAA executive director and former Benjamin Russell football coach Steve Savarese also released a statement Friday.
“Like thousands of others, I am deeply saddened and disappointed that our schools have closed, and spring sports will not have an opportunity to finish their seasons,” Savarese said. “Even more so, I am disheartened for all student-athletes, contest officials, their coaches, families, student bodies, fans, communities and especially our seniors.
“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis, but I am prayerful that the steps we are taking now within our schools and across our nation will enable all those affected to return to a sense of normalcy sooner than later.”