High school sports in Florida have officially been approved to resume this fall. The Florida High School Athletic Association voted on Friday to allow member schools to start their seasons on August 24, despite the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the state continuously remaining in the thousands.
Nearly 800 schools are a part of the association. The fall season consists of bowling, cross country, football, golf, swimming and diving, and girls volleyball. As part of the approval for the season, coaches will have to make a “COVID waiver form” available to the schools.
Florida has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported 6,218 new cases of the virus and 228 new deaths. There have been more than 557,300 reported cases and over 9,100 deaths so far. The majority of cases came from direct contact with someone else who had contracted the disease, state data shows.
In the past two weeks, the state reported that there had been 8,399 cases of the coronavirus among children under the age of 18. The most impacted age group within this category were high school age students, 14 to 17, with more than 3,000 cases.
Coaches who are part of the association will also be required to take a COVID-19 training course through the National Federation of High Schools.
A video on the course details page says that students should not share athletic towels, clothing, shoes or water bottles. It also recommends that coaches maintain a record of all the individuals present, and potentially require that students’ temperatures be taken. Any person with fever or cold symptoms within a 24-hour period should not be allowed to participate in sports.
The association said that this season, schools will not have a minimum contest limit to be eligible for State Series play. Schools have until September 18 to opt out of the series and can form their own regional schedule upon approval by the association, according to the FHSAA’s announcement.
District tournaments for fall sports are set to begin as early as October 12, for volleyball and golf, and last through mid-December, according to the association.
High school football season kicked off on Thursday in Utah with what appeared to be the first game in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began. Herriman High School allowed the stands to fill at 25% capacity, with assigned and socially distanced seats and mandatory face masks.