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Player workouts cleared to resume / October 01, 2020

The Halifax County School Board moved to approve the return of conditioning for extracurricular activities for secondary schools at Monday’s meeting.

The approval was secured on a narrow 4-3 vote. Feelings on both sides of the issue were strong.

Beliefs and politics aside though, what the vote means is that Halifax County High School student-athletes can return to preparing for their respective sports – with COVID-19 guidelines in place and being practiced.

And the vote was critical for student-athletes as no practices or conditioning were being allowed on school property due to the school system not having in-person classes at this time. On Monday the board approved the in-person instruction of 139 high-need special education students to come back to school no later than Oct. 7 – this vote also coming on a 4-3 approval.

The decision to allow a return to activities taking into consideration the “Return To Play” plan submitted by the high school in August to the VHSL as a way for sports to have a pathway of returning student-athletes to prepare for competition. The plan was cited by HCHS Principal Michael Lewis at Monday’s meeting.

Since the VHSL approved its Championships + 1 calendar high school athletic departments, coaches and players have been ready to get back in action. Once conditioning sessions do begin it will be done on a voluntary basis.

HCHS athletics director Allen Lawter has said since spring sports were delayed and then ultimately cancelled he wanted to see the return of student-athletes back on the fields and courts. He too has always stressed that return needed to be done safely; the plan satisfies both of Lawter’s requirements.

Conditioning sessions are to be limited to five athletes per coach, with coaches wearing a mask. Lewis suggested that students working out on their own and not under the direction of someone trained could be doing themselves more harm than good.

The plan submitted by the school reflects the school’s focus and commitment to sports as it mentions the gym secured for practices in June and July. With Virginia being in Phase-3 of its statewide recovery plan, contact sports that weren’t allowed to practice under Phase-2 and Phase-1 guidelines can now condition and practice, though still with stringent rules in place.

No time schedule has been set as of yet for Comet athletes to return to conditioning and practices but the plan does state which facilities will be used for which sports. Gyms will accommodate volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, and cheer. Baseball and softball use their own facilities.

The weight room, track/football fields as well as the soccer/band field will be open to all sports, with football getting the priority in the weight room.

The plan also recognizes all the various COVID-19 guidelines in place by local, state and federal agencies — covering everything from completing a health monitoring form, to PPE wear, to steps to be taken should someone contract the virus, the plan is pretty through.

Discussions to determine a projected time to return to conditioning activities will be forthcoming.

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