CINCINNATI — The Ohio High School Athletic Association extended its no-contact period Thursday night for all sports for member schools to June 1 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The rule is to assist Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's stay-at-home order, which is in effect until at least May 29, and ensure all school facilities remain closed and are not opened to school coaches and/or athletes, according to an OHSAA release.
All school buildings that provide any kindergarten through 12th grade instruction are to remain closed to students until 11:59 p.m. June 30, according to an order signed by Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton.
"There is every intent to make sure the no-contact regulation stays in place as long as the facility shutdown is in place," OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said in a memo to member schools Thursday night.
"Though the current order for shutting school facilities is in place through June 30, we felt there would be a chance this could be pulled back to an earlier date. Putting the no-contact period in place until June 1 would provide flexibility in the event it would be."
For example, Snodgrass said if the order was pulled back to June 15, the OHSAA's no-contact regulation would extend to that same date. If the order is in effect until June 30, the OHSAA would mirror that date.
"We simply felt it gave us more flexibility," Snodgrass said. "As long as the Ohio Department of Health’s order to have facilities closed is in place, the OHSAA’s no-contact period will be in place."
The OHSAA board of directors also modified four regulations including the elimination of the 10-day restriction for contact for team sports coaches this summer (June 1 to Aug. 31).
"Due to the cancellation of spring sports and the shortened tournament season, we heard from schools that felt they could monitor it appropriately and that this adjustment would also provide flexibility to coaches especially in light of the unknown ‘summer schedules,’" Snodgrass said. "We realize this can be challenging for multiple sport athletes but felt that schools could oversee this during this unprecedented time."
The previous regulation allowed up to 10 days of coaching instruction for fall sports coaches in June or July each summer. Aug. 1 is the official start of OHSAA practice for fall sports.
"Waiving the 10 coaching days opens doors for coaches to work with kids more once facilities and contact is permitted," said Lakota West athletic director Scott Kaufman, who is an OHSAA board member.
The OHSAA no-contact period was issued through May 1 but was extended another month. It prohibits any coach -- paid or volunteer -- from providing coaching or instruction, supervising conditioning and physical fitness programs or opening gyms to members of a school team in their sports.
"We're taking it one month at a time," Wyoming football coach Aaron Hancock told WCPO last week. "I mean, June 1 is the first Monday that we start our offseason program, and that's our goal, and there is nothing that we can do to change that. But all we can do is focus on ourselves and how we are improving ourselves each and every day."
The no-contact period does not include communication to student-athletes nor does it include electronic individual workouts as long as those workouts can be done individually and do not promote group gatherings.
Kaufman said additional adjustments as a result of COVID-19 are expected to follow in late May or early June.
Starting May 1, OHSAA member schools have multiple referendum items it will consider, including one that pertains to the ability of Snodgrass and the OHSAA to adjust regulations and make temporary changes in the best interest of student-athletes if it is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OHSAA has 816 member high schools and approximately 760 seventh- to eighth-grade schools that belong to the association, which represents over 350,000 students competing in 26 sanctioned sports (13 for boys and 13 for girls).
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association issued a news release earlier Thursday that said all school facilities on school-owned property will remain closed for use to sports in any manner through at least May 31.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told a briefing April 29 that no athletics will be held in the commonwealth until at least July, according to the KHSAA.
Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox told ABC 57 News the state association is preparing for scenarios for the fall sports season.