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Decision on restarting NET high school athletics expected next week

Douglas Fritz • May 14, 2020 at 10:30 AM

A decision on whether to implement a Northeast Tennessee plan to restart high school athletics is expected to be announced next week.

Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner was part of a group who presented a plan to superintendents of schools from Mountain City to Morristown on Wednesday. The proposal detailed the guidelines that would be in place to allow student-athletes to return to facilities for practice purposes after the 2019-20 school year ends.

The target date for restart was originally set for May 26, but was moved to June 1 after Wednesday’s meeting.

School directors have taken the athletic directors’ proposal and are presenting it to each individual board of education. After that process is complete, the directors of schools will tell the athletic directors whether they can go forward with the plans.

Turner said he thinks the plan has a solid chance of being approved.

As part of the proposal, strict guidelines must be followed. Included in the mix is a nine-athlete-to-one-coach ratio — with social-distancing measures in place — for practice sessions. Also, student-athletes will be subject to temperature checks prior to entering practice facilities.

Last week, Milan, Peabody and Union City returned to small-group football workouts. According to the Jackson Sun, Milan had 12 to 16 players divided into two smaller groups. Six-to-eight athletes were on the field running while the other group was spaced out and working in the weight room. After 30 minutes, the two groups switched.

Position-based groups came every 90 minutes with four time slots per day. Thirty-minute intervals between workouts allowed coaches to sanitize weight equipment. The players also sanitized the equipment after using it.

Workouts at all three schools were voluntary, and some athletes have decided not to participate.

As part of the Northeast Tennessee plan, student-athletes and coaches will not be required to attend the in-person workouts.

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