The sports world may look a little different but things seem to be starting to return to as normal as possible. Alabama state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey announced Thursday schools could reopen beginning June 1, and the AHSAA followed suit.

According to a release sent out Thursday, AHSAA teams may begin athletic activities on that date — so long as their local school districts have reopened. Although practices must be done under guidelines and with social distancing practice, it is still welcome news for AHSAA officials.

“We are elated to have a definite date for our coaches and student-athletes to return to their schools where they can continue to experience valuable educational lessons through athletics,” ASHAA executive director Steve Savarese said in a release.

Despite some thought athletic practices would be limited to certain numbers, this is not the case. As Gov. Kay Ivey’s recent amended safer-at-home mandates do not have a limitation on the size of gatherings, the AHSAA has also not made that directive either. A big part of the guidelines given by the AHSAA include physical distancing, which includes using space large enough to accommodate 36 square feet per participant, including adults.

Whenever possible, everyone should maintain a distance of 6 feet between persons and when not possible, facial coverings must be used. Plastic face shields — including those attached to a helmet — cannot be used in lieu of a cloth facial covering.

Prior to each day, it is recommended athletes, coaches and personnel are screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Also only school personnel, coaches, athletic trainers and student-athletes should be present during athletic activities.

Students should remain in the same static groups and should not interchange group members, which means different teams must be kept separated. When possible, there should be one specific entry point and a separate exit point for arriving and departing places like a gym, field house, weight room, etc.

A multi-sport athlete can attend more than one team’s workout per day but he or she must change clothes before attending the second or third workout and follow all Alabama Department of Public Health hygiene guidelines concerning handwashing and cleanliness.

Following that respect, student-athletes must wash their hands before beginning any workout or practice. Teams should do everything possible to avoid sharing things like towels, cups, water bottles, gloves, etc.

All equipment, including balls, bats, helmets, etc., should be wiped down and cleaned after each group activity. This is more stringent for weight-room equipment, which must be sanitized between each athlete’s sets. All surfaces, including but not limited to equipment, door handles, sinks, faucets, knobs, toilets, tables, soap dispensers, locker handles and more, should be cleaned and sanitized before groups arrive and once groups have left.

While working out, athletes must maintain recommended spacing and teams are encouraged to mark off or outline areas for correct spacing. Spotters should wear a cloth facial covering. Between groups working out on the same day, the weight room should be completely sanitized and cleaned.

As soon as workouts, drills and conditioning is complete, all student-athletes should leave the facility immediately and students are encouraged to shower and wash all clothing that was worn during these activities.

In accordance with regular AHSAA bylaws, all student-athletes must have a pre-participation physical, 2020-21 consent release and concussion form on file prior to participating in any summer activities. These cannot be mandatory workouts; the AHSAA has previously made addendums for tryouts for spring and winter sports.

The AHSAA’s release also reiterated for teams to check with their local school districts as their guidelines may be more restrictive. It also said officials would be constantly evaluating these best practices and adjusting accordingly and if necessary.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.