GAINESVILLE — In a virtual meeting on July 20, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s (FHSAA) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) recommended that schools delay the start of football and volleyball seasons.
The committee also recommended three important benchmarks in order for schools to return to play, including an overall downward trajectory for positive cases, less than a 5% positivity rate for cases over a 28-day period and at least two weeks of practice before competition to allow for appropriate heat acclimation and conditioning. SMAC is chaired by Dr. Jennifer Maynard.
“Although all members of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee acknowledge the incredible benefits of sports participation on both the physical and mental health of our youth,” said Dr. Maynard, “it is imperative that we take into account the scientifically proven risks of this very novel and unpredictable virus as we make recommendations.
“It is important to recognize that developing medical evidence indicates possible detrimental impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on the lungs, heart and increased risk of formation of blood clots throughout the body,” continued Dr. Maynard.
After hearing SMAC’S recommendations to delay the start of football and volleyball, the FHSAA board of trustees unanimously voted to reject them.
Instead, the FHSAA voted to keep July 27 as both the calendar start date and start of high school practices.
Individual school districts will still have control over whether or not they allow their schools to participate in fall sports.
SMAC also recommended that schools have a plan if a student or coach tests positive. SMAC suggested 10-day isolation with contact tracing. Students who test positive must have medical clearance including a cardiac assessment in order to return after testing negative for COVID-19.
Players, coaches, staff and officials on the sidelines must wear masks and officials must use electronic whistles.
SMAC recommended that fans not be allowed to attend games at the time, but acknowledged that it will be a local decision for each school district to make.
FHSAA is scheduled to meet again on Friday, July 24, to further discuss the SMAC’s recommendations.