Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Proposes Health and Safety Changes in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

By Kevin Harrish and Matt Gutridge on July 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Ohio High School Football

If Ohio high school football is played this fall, it's going to look quite different.

With the state still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association saw it fit to propose some changes to the upcoming high school football season in an effort to allow football to be played safely.

"With the uncertainty surrounding the State of Ohio during the Coronavirus pandemic, it has
become clear that there needs to be a voice from the Ohio High School Football Coaches
Association concerning the ability of the 709 schools in Ohio playing 11-man football to
compete in the fall of 2020," the OHSFCA said in a news release.

The proposed changes are primarily to allow for distancing whenever possible, to encourage sanitization and health awareness and to limit the amount of physical contact between participants.

The proposal made a point to address the CDC recommendation of less than 15 minutes of continuous contact. As a result, the OHSFCA plans for a two-minute break after every 6 minutes of game clock time, to eliminate that 15 minutes of continuous contact. The OHSFCA also estimated that even an offensive lineman – who sees the most contact during a game – will average a little over 5 minutes of continuous contact per game if they play every play on the offensive side of the ball.

Here are some of the biggest changes the OHSFCA is planning to implement this fall.

  • Players will have a health check performed at arrival.
  • Players will report with their own water bottle/container.
  • All practice periods, including team periods, will be no longer than nine minutes in pods.
  • Full contact practice sessions are limited to two nine-minute periods as opposed to two 12-minute periods.
  • Single practice sessions will not exceed 3 hours during the preseason.
  • No practice will exceed 2 hours and 15 minutes during the season.
  • A running clock might be used during the first half if both coaches agree to it and the guidelines for the continuous clock are met.
  • Six feet social distancing must be maintained on the sidelines.
  • Coaches should wear masks on the sideline.
  • 12-minute halftime (instead of 20).
  • The team box will be from 10-yard line to 10-yard line instead of 20-yard line to 20-yard line.
  • Temperature is taken for all attendees.
  • Footballs must be sanitized throughout the game.
  • A two-minute break after every 6 minutes of game clock time.
  • During timeouts, coaches will meet players at the bottom of numbers on the field, with players socially distanced. Players must sanitize their hands during timeouts.
  • No handshakes.
  • Postgame meetings must be conducted on the field with social distancing protocols.
  • Players are asked to exit the field immediately, not stopping to talk to family or friends, after the postgame meeting.
Travel and Locker Rooms
  • Social distancing will be enforced on all bus trips – one player per seat, and everyone must wear masks.
  • Players must wear masks in the locker room and keep socially distant.
  • Avoid the use of the locker room during halftime if possible.
  • Temperature is taken for all attendees.
  • Six feet of social distancing must be maintained.
  • Face coverings must be worn.
  • Nobody will be permitted to stand on the fence line.

As of now, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is planning to begin fall sports as scheduled, meaning official practices for fall sports are set to begin Aug. 1, with the first weekend of football games set for the last weekend in August.

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