More than two months after being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, Greeneville High School athletic teams have been cleared to start summer workouts on June 1 under a plan put together by Northeast Tennessee School Systems.
For Greeneville football coach Dan Hammonds, the first day of workouts can’t get here soon enough.
“When we were doing Zoom meetings for spring practice, I left with the meeting running to take care of something else and I came back 45 minutes later and the guys – just the players – were still on Zoom talking with each other,” said Greeneville coach Dan Hammonds. “The same thing happened again later. And the second time I was listening to them and they were holding each other accountable, asking each other what they had been doing, kind of checking in on each other.
“As much as anything, the players have missed each other, the coaches have missed each other. People are relationship creatures and that’s tough to get taken away.”
Hammonds said teams being cleared to start workouts has increased his confidence that high school football will be played with fans in the stands this fall.
“I’ve never said or thought we wouldn’t play, but I was kind of getting on the fence a little bit,” he said. “It just seems like in the past week there’s been a different feel. … The TSSAA is looking to play football for sure because financially without it, it puts everybody in a bind. If it’s feasible and possible, I think everybody is going to try to protect it for monetary reasons. And then you hear people when you’re out saying they need it, too. They really want to have football for a normalcy thing.”
Highlights of the Northeast Tennessee School Systems plan for workouts include:
• Students and instructors must have pre-activity basic symptom evaluation each day of attendance.
• All students and instructors will have their temperature taken each day.
• Any student or instructor with a fever of 100 degrees or greater will return home immediately – students unable to leave immediately will be kept separate from the group.
• The student or instructor must be temperature free for three days before returning to workouts.
• Only school personnel and students will be allowed in facilities – no spectators.
• Each activity group will consist of a maximum of 10 people – nine students and one instructor.
• Members of the activity group will remain the same each day (including instructors) to aid in contact tracing if necessary.
• Social distancing of at least 6 feet will be maintained at all times.
• Students must arrive to activities dressed – no changing facilities will be provided.
• Parking lots will be monitored to ensure no gathering of students.
• A restroom plan will be in place limiting the number of students in the restroom at one time.
• School equipment will be sanitized before use by different athletes.
• Students will bring their own water bottles or will obtain a disposable bottle of water from their instructor.
With those no-contact restrictions in place, Hammonds anticipates workouts primarily being strength and conditioning through the month of June. If all goes well, he’s hopeful scrimmages and 7-on-7 passing leagues will be allowed in July.
“I think the plan is to get a couple weeks into things and re-evaluate where we’re at as far as how everything is going,” Hammonds said. “Maybe we can phase some more things in in July.”
Hammonds said he hasn’t heard any reservations about starting workouts from players or parents.
“We can’t make workouts mandatory if somebody has reservations about it,” he said. “We’re going to have some paperwork, a waiver-type thing going out to parents. How people feel is definitely a concern, but I haven’t had anyone contact me personally.”