It's Game On For Cross Country This Fall Per GHSA Vote 7/20

photo by Dan McCauley

Well, as of Monday afternoon it appears the cross country season will go ahead as scheduled. The Georgia High School Association's board of trustees voted 12-0 on Monday to postpone football games until September 4th, but cancel no games with other fall sports remaining on schedule. Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines is set to meet with the Sports Medicine Advisory Council Wednesday for final implementation. This doesn't mean there will not be many challenges to deal with and hurdles to leap over in the process at races.  

Today,  the GHSA just released the special considerations document for cross country which covers many safety concerns that can be addressed at races. Coach McClay made some sound suggestions in a post on the discussion board too. Below is the special considerations document. It remains unclear if local school systems will set/mandate their own guidelines for member schools.

We are not out of the water yet with COVID-19, let's do our part and follow the guidelines set forth below to turn this around. I concur with Coach McClay that we should encourage fans and coaches to wear masks at all times at races, and entertain having more old school duals-quads to give all runners on a team the opportunity to race in these uncertain times in case more large invites get canceled this fall like  BOA.

For example, Westminster's girls team traditionally hosts several of these races every season. Schools that have established xc courses on school property could be a great outlet for this. There are some excellent courses that are on school property in Metro ATL, northeast GA, south of I-16, and more.

2020-21 Cross Country Considerations

The considerations outlined in this document are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel, and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.

This is not an exhaustive list and there might be additional steps in each school system and city to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even when taking all precautions, there will still be a risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of team members, as well as coaches and spectators. The situation with COVID-19 is very fluid. These considerations may change. Please consult with your local school system and your local health department for more guidelines to implement and clarify any local policies in place that may affect competitions.

1. General Considerations and Considerations for Host Schools/Coaches

o Social distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained at all times. No hugging, shaking hands, or fist bumps for support/encouragement.

o Cross Country contests should consider using staggered, wave, or interval starts depending on the number of competitors; also may consider having multiple races.

o Possible rule modification-8-1-3a-consider widening the course to at least 6 feet at its narrowest point. o Host schools shall provide hand sanitizer for all teams and participants.

o Host schools shall enforce social distancing requirements in spectator areas and facility entrances.

o Consider using finish corrals and FAT timing as easier to distance at the finish.

o With no FAT timing system, consider alternative means of finish place and time to address congestions at the finish line.

o Establish social distancing protocols for pre and post-contest ceremonies, the pre-contest meeting is limited to one coach from each team, possibly putting awards in envelopes and have the coaches pick them up, one at a time, after the contest.

o If you decide to provide a concession stand, set the concession stand away from any course markings, start/finish line, and away from any group gathering areas in order to follow social distancing protocols, as well as state and local health department guidelines.

o Medical personnel, sport medicine trainers, or designated coaches should be set up on the course, and/or at the start/finish line to monitor the competitions. If there is a medical issue, only those individuals should attend to the issue as to limit the number of personnel involved.

o Consider transportation guidelines when teams/competitors are arriving or departing from the competition as not to have a congested area.

2. Considerations for Students o Athletes should tell their coaches immediately if they are not feeling well.

o Athletes should have their own personal water containers without sharing.

o Any towels or clothing should not be shared between athletes.

o Cloth face coverings are permitted and recommended.

o Use handwashing/hand sanitizer frequently.

3. Considerations for Officials

o Bring personal hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently.

o Don't share equipment.

o Follow physical distancing guidelines at all times.

o It is permissible to use an electronic whistle.

o Do not shake hands with anyone.

o Cloth face coverings are recommended at all times.

4. Considerations for Parents

o Educate your student-athletes, parents, and your cross country community about physical distancing, handwashing, and other immune system protocols.

o Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition. If there is a doubt, stay home.