OHSAA offers schools return to play recommendations for fall sports

Lakeside's Chrisjeily Rodriquez leaps for a spike at Geneva in a 2019 volleyball match. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has sent out guidelines for the various 2020 fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association sent an email to its member schools outlining recommendations for fall sports.

Within the email, recommendations for specific fall sports were attached. Currently, contact sports can begin practicing, but schools are still not allowed to scrimmage each other. Football, cross country, volleyball and soccer are deemed contact sports. Non-contact sports may return to competition.

The OHSAA expanded on some points from the OHSFCA’s recommendation earlier this week. One of the added recommendations limits contact with the ball. The offense will take the ball into the huddle with them, and the referee will put a bean bag at the spot of the ball.

It also recommends halftime be shortened to 10 minutes and timeouts can be extended up to two minutes. Face coverings are strongly recommended, and the OHSAA also recommends athletes and spectators be screened prior to the game.

In the other sports:


The recommendations related to competition were most concerned with the start and finish lines. The two largest takeaways were that “Cross country meets should consider using staggered, wave or interval starts” and fully automatic timing should be used for larger meets in an attempt to reduce clusters of athletes at the finish line.


This sport included rules from the National Federation of State High School Associations, as well as recommendations. One of the rules suspends switching sides between sets unless there’s a “distinct disadvantage” determined by an official. The document didn’t address whether spectators would be allowed.


The only notable recommendation was the suspension of the pregame world cup introduction line. Instead, players should just walk to their positions on the field, and the bench should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet of each other.


Competitions remain largely the same. Golf may use shotgun starts, as long as social distance’s still present. After the event, it’s recommended that there be no awards ceremony.


The recommendation is focused on the use of tennis balls. Competitors are expected to use two different cans of tennis balls, and they’re not allowed to share them. If they need to pick up a ball, they should use their racquet or foot. Athletes will still be able to switch sides between sets as long as they maintain a social distance.

The email also included a student pledge promising a student would do their best to adhere to the recommendations and local guidelines.

If a student athlete signs it, they agree to testing and potential self-quarantining if they’ve been in contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus or if they test positive themselves. The self-quarantine period would last until the student-athlete no longer had symptoms, it had been at least 10 days since they experienced their first symptoms and they tested negative.

Currently, the OHSAA’s seems to be committed to a more localized approach, leaving actual mandates for return to play up to local schools and Gov. Mike DeWine’s office.

“Every school is different, and every athletics activity is different,” the email states. “Certain mitigation strategies may be feasible in one school or for one activity, but not another. The OHSAA fully intends to support its member schools and the student-athletes who desire to compete in interscholastic athletics and will continue to assess all areas as more information becomes available.”


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