What’s Next | How Lexington area high schools are adjusting to football practices during pandemic

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In the middle of March, the outbreak of COVID-19 brought sports to a screeching halt. But now, for the first time in over 100 days, high school athletes are allowed to resume small group workouts and practices.

But what does that entail and what are high schools doing to ensure the safety of their athletes? At East Jessamine High School, Head Football Coach Mike Bowlin is doing the following to clear his players before their morning workouts.

“Every player on the team has to enter the facility with a mask,” Bowlin said. “They also must bring their own water. That’s a non-negotiable. We don’t provide any water for them. I ask every one of them a series of five questions that they have to answer. We check every kid in and take their temperature. Once they pass those tests, they are allowed to enter the facility. Do you have a fever? Do you have a cough? Do you have a sore throat? Do you have shortness of breath? Have you been around anybody with COVID-19? Are you sure? Let’s take your temperature. 97.2 you are in the weight room.”

“Take off big boy. Once the last kid has entered, we lock the gate. Nobody else is allowed to enter the facility, because we don’t know who has been checked who might be coming in COVID positive, so we want to make sure every kid in the building and in the facility has been checked by the front door. We lock it and nobody else is allowed in.”

Starting today, high touch outdoor sports like football and soccer may resume team and group practices with 50 people or less, and once the athletes are screened, the following guidelines must be followed.

They have to be divided in small groups of 10 or fewer with no more than one adult coach per group. Practices are limited to low-touch activities, so for example, blocking drills and sharing footballs are outlawed at this time.

Practicing during a pandemic is uncharted territory and at Woodford County High School, Head Coach Dennis Johnson is doing his best to follow those guidelines.

“Social distancing is very important,” Johnson said. “Wearing your mask when you aren’t doing physical activity is very important. These are things the players and coaches have to get used to. It’s the new reality so we have to get used to it.”

With terminology in the guidelines like low touch and medium sharing, some coaches around the state are confused with how they should be running practices, but they’re doing their best to keep their kids safe.

And as we inch closer to the fall, the hot button question remains: will high schools play football this season?

“I tell my guys control what you can control. Right now we are working and that’s all we can worry about is today. Getting the best work we can today. Whenever the KHSAA gives us regulations and rules, that’s what we try to go by and we will play it by ear, but we have to prepare like we are going to play.”

If schools get the all-clear, the season opener is set for August 21.

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