CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As our state slowly returns to somewhat normal during the Coronavirus Pandemic, there is one area that is going to look drastically different: sports.
As of right now, team competition is prohibited. But some sports have been given the all-clear to start practicing again.
“We are excited to finally be back,” Goose Creek High football player Andrew Dezelle said. “We don’t know what we’ll really be able to do as far as gathering in big groups as a team. But we are putting in the work to do things in smaller groups so that we can still have that team bond.”
Student athletes in Berkeley County were given the all-clear to come back this week on a voluntary basis. But practice and workouts look different.
“We've been splitting up, they split us into smaller groups so that we can separate and get that social distancing at the same time so that we can ultimately stay safe,” Dezelle said. “We're required to wear our masks, of course, bring our own water bottle and just stuff like that.”
The South Carolina High School League issued guidelines for high school athletic programs to follow.
All teams will start in “Phase One” which includes the rule that six feet of space must be maintained.
“When you’re working out just as if you are singing or shouting or cheering, you’re breathing heavily, you’re more likely to expel more of those little droplets,” DHEC Physician Consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “That’s why, especially with sports, it’s really key to keep that six-foot distance so those droplets fall to the ground basically, and can’t get inhaled by somebody else.”
Group sizes are also limited to 10 people per facility. No balls or sports equipment can be used for the first 10 days of workouts.
On the 11th day, properly cleaned and sanitized balls and sports equipment may be used. But, there’s a catch.
“Once we start adding balls back to the equation, still at that point in time they cannot be shared,” SCHSL spokesperson Sheila Gordon said. “So, throwing to a receiver from the quarterback would not be permitted. In order to condition arms we can get creative and we can do certain things – we can do some band work, we can do throwing into a net.”
Officials are keeping a close eye on what’s happening. Because of limited availability of testing, lack of resources for contact tracing, and expanding knowledge of COVID-19 transmission – officials say the guidelines could change.
As for right now, “Phase Two” and “Phase Three” are still unknown when it comes to sports. Plans for actual games and competitions are also still up in the air.
Berkeley County started practices Monday. Charleston County School District officials said they are targeting June 22 to begin summer workouts. Dorchester District 2 said there were talks of starting team practices this upcoming Monday but are still waiting to confirm if that’s the case.