FHSAA vote 11-4:

Pushes sports 2020 start to August 24

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GAINESVILLE - An impassioned plea from a former local football coach preempted an FHSAA vote to push the start of 2020 high school sports seasons to August 24. The vote, an 11-4 count to start on August 24 comes within a week of a 10-5 vote from a previous meeting that made July 27 the original start date.

The August 24 date is not a solid start as members were to meet somewhere near August 17 with more medical data to determine a final yes or no on the August 24 start. Citrus County School Board member Doug Dodd presented the motion that included the dates pertaining to a possible start date for sports.

“I understand the 17th and the 24th being a target date to start athletics providing the information on the 17th allows that?,” asked former Baker County High School footbal coach, now at Wewahitchka High Bobby Johns, of a motion by Citrus County School Board member Doug Dodd that would allow more medical date to be analyzed pertaining to the safety of moving into school and sports in the fall. “I can’t tell the 100 coaches and all my kids that we are going to start on August 24 because something may happen on the 17th that may say we can’t play at all.”

Dr. Jennifer Maynard, of the Mayo Clinic and representing the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) has been providing the previous meetings with accumulated data regarding COVID-19 risks and preparations as they pertain to school and athletics.

Doug Dodd motion was to postpone all sports to August 24 with the August 17 meet date designed to give schools at least a week’s notice to make more preparations if the research allows for the start on August 24.

“We’re hoping to have a month or more data to analyze,” said Dodd.

Maynard reiterated that her data would not be able to provide in-school COVID-19 data. Maynard emphasized that playing football and girls volleyball in many areas of the state right now is not “medically safe.” The inability to social distance on the football field and volleyball court were considered among the biggest factors in the SMAC’s decision to consider those sports as “high risk.”

She advised those sports should not begin until the locations in which specific schools are located show a decrease in the rate of positivity and maintaining an average of five percent positivity — or lower — over a 28-day period.

“I would be careful going back to play if the (positivity rate) in my area was above 5-to-10 percent,” Maynard said. “From the SMAC’s position, if we have the meeting prior to the start of any school, we will not have any data regarding any school exposures. I would be hesitant to turn over a report to the board to review that the data could not be up to date with regard to school exposure.”

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