Johnston County Public Schools announced Thursday evening to allow voluntary workouts for high school fall sports teams starting Aug. 3.
South Johnston athletic director Brody Massengill says no practices will be held on Monday and that instead, he and the fall sports coaches will hold a meeting that day to finalize a plan for a safe return to organized activities.
"The one thing we don't want to do, and I think all schools can agree to this, is rush back into it without being prepared," said Massengill, who added he's open to beginning activities at the school sometime next week.
"With the statement being released (Thursday) afternoon, it's just not quite enough time to start at the beginning of the week."
Massengill added the workouts will not begin before Wednesday, Aug. 5 and that the official starting dates and times will be released on the school's website and ConnectEd on Monday.
The decision from JCPS comes after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released a statement Tuesday that allows teams to work out under Phase Two of the association's summer guidelines. The NCHSAA has allowed small groups to hold organized activities under Phase One restrictions since June 15, but most districts, including JCPS, have decided to postpone workouts due to the increasing spread of COVID-19.
JCPS athletic director Brent Walston says that though other local districts have yet to release an official date to return to action, all coaches and school administrators in the county are prepared to safely move forward.
“We feel our return to play plan is in place and our schools have proper materials to begin workouts on a limited basis," said Walston.
He added that every team is to abide by the NCHSAA summer guidelines and that each school has the option to return whenever they are comfortable, to ensure they are ready to meet all protocols.
In its release on Tuesday, the NCHSAA "strongly encouraged schools that have yet to take part in Phase One, to consider "a gradual return to activities" as to protect the students who have been physically inactive this summer. Walston says the decision to work out under Phase One or Phase Two, which allows for the sharing of equipment, will be up to each school.
All student-athletes will have to complete screenings, which include asymptomatic questionnaires and a touchless temperature check, daily. And they will follow all guidance from the Johnston County Health Department.
Student-athletes and parents will be required to complete forms prior to returning to workouts. Massengill says South Johnston will hold drive-thru opportunities for parents and players to drop off the COVID-19 participation form on Monday, Aug. 3 and Tuesday, Aug. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., outside of the school's gym.
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2040.