The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced in a memo to member school administrators Thursday that individual skills training may take place at school facilities at the discretion of the respective school districts beginning Tuesday, and that the no-contact period has been removed for all sports beginning Tuesday as well.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday that training for all sports, including contact sports like football, can resume Tuesday. Safety protocols need to be followed, and tournaments, games and competitions for contact sports were still prohibited for now, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

The School Closure Order signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton had been amended to allow school districts to determine the usage of all indoor and outdoor school athletic facilities, according to the memo.

Mandatory guidelines for participants and spectators regarding skills training included coaches designating space for each player to maintain six-foot spacing; parents/guardians maintaining six-foot social distancing practices if at the training facility, with no additional spectators permitted; no-touch rule in effect in which all individuals avoid physical contact with others including high fives, huddles or other close contact occurring before, during and after skills sessions unless the contact is for the purpose of safety; no congregation before or after training/practice session; and coaches, players and parents/guardians doing a self-symptom check before going to the training session or practice, according to the state health department.

Time should be allotted between sessions to allow teams to exit fields/facilities prior to new teams arriving, and practice facilities must have adequate space for social distancing, according to the state health department. Equipment and items related to the activity must be sanitized before, during and after every event. If equipment cannot be sanitized during the activity, only participants of a single team must use equipment and items related to the activity.

Late last week, the OHSAA lifted its no-contact regulations for baseball, golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field. The OHSAA memo added that those “low/no-contact sports” identified by the governor’s office may begin competition and skill training on Tuesday under specific mandated and recommended guidelines, such as baseball and softball coaches and players adhering to physical six-foot distancing except when the ball is in play, coaches wearing face coverings at all times and players wearing face coverings while not actively participating in the field of play.

The OHSAA memo added that competitions of any kind are not permitted for the contact sports, and there has been no date set for when competitions in those sports may begin.

After Thursday’s announcement from the OHSAA regarding individual skill training and removing the no-contact period for all sports beginning Tuesday, some area athletic directors caution that strict policies and procedures must still be followed, and that many facilities will remain closed, at least for the present.

“This is huge news for our athletes in the hope we can start back to normal in the coming weeks,” said Findlay High Athletic Director Nate Weihrauch.

“While we are excited about this news, safety is our top priority … While we will not start on May 26 we will take advantage of this opportunity and are excited about activities to begin.”

Patrick Henry AD Ben George said his school will be waiting until “at least June 1” before opening facilities, with Leipsic AD Gary Kreinbrink saying “Leipsic is closed until July 1.”

“We will be using next week to gather information, answer questions, and create effective policies to reopen,” George said in an email.

Elmwood AD Ty Traxler said, “We are holding a meeting on May 26th with our head coaches to devise a plan to re-open. We will then submit that to our administration for approval.”

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