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State: Sports to return fall 2020

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Makey gave fall sports competitions the go-ahead in Friday’s press conference about his Roadmap to Reopening Schools. How those competitions – for volleyball, cross country and football – will look, given continuing coronavirus concerns, remains to be seen.

“We will have extracurricular activities,” Mackey said in a joint press conference with state health officer Dr. Scott Harris. “They will look different. We are still working through that.”

The Alabama High Athletic Association is currently reviewing the Alabama State Department of Education Roadmap to Reopening Schools.

The ALSDE, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health, developed its plan as a guidance document for the upcoming school year, designed to help meet the health and safety challenges Alabama’s schools are facing concerning COVID-19.

“We appreciate Dr. Mackey and his staff for their tireless efforts. I am looking forward to working with school administrators and with the AHSAA Football and Fall Sports committees, which meet July 7, in addition to the Alabama Football Coaches Association July 8, to discuss the ALSDE Roadmap and the ADPH guidelines,” said AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese.

Savarese said the AHSAA will continue to study and produce “best practices,” in conjunction with the AHSAA Central Board, Medical Advisory Board, ALSDE and ADPH, and will present recommendations to the Central Board at its July 22 meeting.

“The AHSAA is looking forward to hosting the Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl, which kicks off the 2020 football season, Aug. 20-21,” Savarese added.

Spring sports ended abruptly in March when Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency and shut down schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Student-athletes were allowed to return to their schools to work out June 1 with increased health protocols. Even still, several local student-athletes have tested positive for the virus, and schools have had to take appropriate measures – including, in some cases, shutting down workouts for a period of time.

The first AHSAA football games are scheduled for Aug. 20, the same day students are set to report back to campus in Franklin County Schools. Russellville City Schools students will start school Aug. 12.

Franklin County Schools Superintendent Greg Hamilton coaches and players in his system have been doing their part to try to get back to normal.

“Coaches are implementing safety procedures, and players are taking ownership in these procedures during their summer workouts to help ensure that their school will be able to complete their seasons,” said Hamilton. “We look forward to being on the field and the court this fall.”

Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes said on Facebook the community is going to have to act responsibly if school’s are going to have a normal fall in the classroom and on the field.

“Fall athletics and extracurriculars are on as scheduled, and we are already getting excited about all the things that make up our fall semester,” said Grimes. “To help make this a reality, we hope everyone in our community will do their part to limit the continued spread of this virus.

“In addition to putting students’ health at risk,” Grimes noted, “our actions in the community now will impact how we conduct school and fall extracurricular activities. It is important to note our actions may actually determine what the football, volleyball and cross-country seasons look like. If our system experiences an outbreak, and our teams cannot play, each game we can’t play in each of our sports will count as a forfeit and will factor into making the playoffs. It will also negatively impact extracurricular activities.

“So for the health and safety of our community and for the chance for our students and faculty to have a more ‘normal’ fall semester, we hope everyone will do their part.”