While schools in other areas have discontinued or paused their summer sports programs, Indian athletics programs are still going strong – for now.
“We want our students to be safe and we have implemented all feasible protocols to decrease risk. We’re constantly evaluating,” said Marietta Superintendent Brandi Naylor. “But at the end of the day, we want our kids to have some degree of normalcy, too.”
Marietta has guidelines in place that are designed to prevent community spread of COVID-19.
Before entering athletic facilities, student athletes must have their temperature taken to prove they’re not running fever and then use hand sanitizer.
“Depending on the activity, we have our kids re-sanitize their hands periodically,” remarked Marietta’s Athletic Director/Football Coach Alex Doby.
The coaches are also sanitizing equipment, such as weights, balls and helmets with industrial strength sanitizer and wiping down equipment before and after use. Additionally, all students must have their own water bottles; water fountains are currently off.
“We are dividing our kids into smaller groups and we’ve placed the racks at least six feet apart in the weight room,” Doby stated. “We’re also buying bottled water for our kids and we have huge fans circulating outside air inside the weight room.”
Doby said that touching contaminated equipment and breathing stale air were two factors of great concern for him, factors that he’s done his best to mitigate.
Also, sharing of any personal equipment like towels or gloves is not allowed.
“We’ve done the best that we can to be proactive, even before OSSAA released their guidelines, we were doing these things,” explained Doby. “We’ve gone through gallons of hand sanitizer trying to be super cautious and protect our kids.”
On June 1, Marietta’s student athletes in football, girls’ basketball and softball, and cross country began outdoor workouts and only moved into the weight room last week. Hopefully workouts for those sports will continue throughout the summer.
Beginning July 6, football practices will be held four days a week.
One last thing that that Marietta has implemented is a record of all students and coaches who are at workouts each day. In past years, taking attendance was done to measure a particular student’s dedication to their physical conditioning, but this year, it’s done for a different reason: to help with community tracing in the event of a positive case.
“We have developed our own system for internal tracing,” said Doby. “If a student or coach is exposed, they must be tested and quarantine for 14 days.”
If there are no symptoms within that time, readmission is allowed. The attendance list could help administrators notify others of potential exposure. To date, coaches and administrators are aware of no positive cases.
Even with all the talk of pandemics, social distancing, and CDC protocols, Doby said that they’re trying to focus on one thing about summer athletics: our workouts are going well and we’ve got a lot of kids involved – something that’s really positive.
It’s a day-to-day proposition, but for now, Marietta’s summer athletics programs will continue. They’ll also continue cleaning, sanitizing, and protecting. And they’ll do it one day at a time, hoping to keep their student athletes COVID-19 free.