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School athletics can resume with limitations in July; state sets guidance for practice, contact sports
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School athletics can resume with limitations in July; state sets guidance for practice, contact sports

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State officials are outlining a three-phase plan for students' return to extracurricular activities and sports this summer.

In new guidance issued Friday by the Indiana Department of Education, schools will be encouraged to limit contact between athletes and adjust schedules to promote social distancing.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered school facilities, including athletic fields, gymnasiums and weight rooms, closed across the state this spring amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Schools are allowed to reopen on July 1 per the governor's order. 

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In the state's new guidance, all summer activities will be made voluntary. Schools are encouraged to offer students and staff training to recognize coronavirus symptoms.

Small group exercise is recommended through all phases of the summer plan, as well as wearing face coverings when not participating in vigorous activity.

Athletes are discouraged from sharing uniforms, water bottles and towels as they return to summer practice.

In the first phase, extending from July 6-19, student-athletes will be limited to 15 hours per week on a school campus.

Sports teams will be allow two activity days each week limited to three hours per day. Activity days must be approved by an athletic director at least 10 days in advance.

Conditioning will be limited to four day a week in two-hour sessions. Multiple sessions may occur each day.

Locker rooms should not be used, formal competition is discouraged and no contact should be exercised in contact sports, according to the Phase I guidance.

Pools can be used, though schools are encouraged to work with state and local officials to create a plan for reopening recreational water facilities.

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Only essential student-athletes, student participants, coaches, medical staff and related supervisors, directors and security should be in attendance.

In Phase II, from July 20 to Aug. 15, contact can be reintroduced in contact sports and locker rooms may reopen at 50% capacity.

No formal competition should be allowed with the exception of girls golf.

Competition may begin with the start of Phase III on Aug. 15.

Contact should be limited to only what is required for competition according to Indiana High School Athletic Association rules.

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Spectators, media and vendors will be allowed at sporting events, but schools should continue to decrease gathering sizes wherever possible, including in locker rooms, which should stay at 50% capacity unless doing so creates hardship or affects athlete safety.

Only prepared, prepackaged foods should be sold at concession stands by food handlers using appropriate professional protective equipment, according to the guidance.

The guidance issued Friday should be followed while taking regional or countywide directives into account. Recommendations made Friday could change as new developments arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the full guidance here:

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