COLUMBUS – Member schools of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) have been encouraged to seek improvement in various aspects of hosting games based on COVID-19 guidelines provided by the Ohio health director’s order.
The OHSAA sent a memo to superintendents, principals and athletic administrators last week to inform them that observers throughout the state reported more than 20% failure in eight categories such as social distancing, facial coverings and gatherings at the site of the game. The memo emphasized that member schools should pay attention to the data obtained by the observers because failure to adhere to the guidelines puts those in attendance, including players and coaches, at risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
The memo also emphasized that any potential spread could result in an early shutdown of the season.
The following percentages are based on data gathered by observers at 87 games played last week:
Participants failed to maintain six-foot social distancing at all times unless on the field at 44 games (50.6%).
Participants failed to wear facial coverings unless on the field at 30 games (34.5%).
The guideline that states coaches, game staff and spectators must practice six-foot social distancing was broken at 29 games (33.3%).
The guideline that states no players, coaches, officials or spectators should congregate before, during or after a game was broken at 28 games (32.2%).
Participants are not to have physical contact with other participants unless part of the on-field play (such as handshakes and high fives), but that guideline was broken at 24 games (27.6%).
At 23 games (26.4%), game-day personnel, staff, participants, coaches, officials and spectators failed to properly wear facial coverings.
Spectators failed to maintain six-foot social distancing between individuals/family groups at 21 games (24.1%).
Spectators failed to wear facial coverings in a manner consistent with the health director’s orders at 20 games (23%).
The OHSAA created the COVID-19 Observer’s Program after a recommendation by the governor’s office. Observers attend games around Ohio to make sure guidelines are being followed.
The observers make contact with school athletic administrators or compliance officers to let them know they will attend a game. The observers then file reports with the OHSAA based on their findings.
The compliance officer, as appointed by each home school at each game, is required to make sure that all guidelines are followed. In the memo sent last week, the OHSAA said the game sites that have had the fewest number of problems showed collaboration between the compliance officers from both teams.
The regular season began on Aug. 28 and continues through Oct. 2. The playoffs will begin Oct. 9, and the state championship games are expected to be played Nov. 13-14 or Nov. 20-21.