CMS announces phased return to workouts for high school athletes

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Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has announced a phased return to works for high school athletes.

The return to athletic workouts at CMS high school facilities begins as early as Sept. 14, 2020.

High school athletes’ return will be staggered, with sports teams returning based on the revised sport calendar announced by the NCHSAA and input from athletic directors and principals.

Cross Country and Volleyball will be the first high school sports to resume this fall, with workouts beginning as early as Sept. 14.

After participants in these two sports return, CMS will evaluate readiness to bring back student-athletes from other sports.

This evaluation period will include further input from athletic directors and principals and will guide how CMS moves forward with additional teams/sports resuming on-campus workouts.

CMS will provide future updates on when and which additional sports return to on-campus workouts.

In addition to the initial evaluation period upon resuming on-campus workouts, CMS will continue to monitor information such as statewide orders issued by NC Gov. Roy Cooper and Mecklenburg County health data as the district considers expanding the sports allowed to participate in on-campus skills development.

“We are pleased to announce a return to on-campus athletic activity for our high school student-athletes and staff,” said CMS Director of Athletics Sue Doran. “We understand the importance and impact of athletic participation and believe our phased approach will enable us to safeguard the health of everyone involved.”

CMS’ implementation will comply with NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and NCHSAA guidelines for enhanced safety measures and procedures for protecting athlete and staff health.

Workouts will include such NCHSAA-mandated elements as limited numbers of athletes and staff allowed to gather at one time on athletic fields and inside facilities and restrictions on use of certain training and athletic equipment.

Additional measures include mandatory social distancing procedures, wearing of protective face coverings, implementation of temperature checks and other health screenings, and more.

NCHSAA guidance allows school districts to establish more restrictive procedures than those provided by NCHSAA but not less.

“CMS athletic directors, coaches, and staff are up-to-date on current health and safety guidelines and will be prepared to welcome our high school student-athletes back for skills development workouts under these guidelines,” said Doran.

Middle school athletics will not resume workouts or competition during the first semester, CMS also announced.

The decision to postpone middle school athletics was based on several factors, among them funding challenges.

“Middle school sports depend upon high school athletics participation fees and a $1 surcharge; with NCHSAA postponing start dates for high school sports, funding availability will be delayed. Also, with CMS opening in an all-remote learning environment, middle school students would face challenges to get to campuses for athletics,” a press release read.

CMS also announced it will allow community use partners, extended use partners, and joint use partners to use outdoor athletic fields managed by the district.

Beginning Aug. 24, partners may use CMS’ outdoor facilities for baseball and softball games and practices.

For all other outdoor sports and activities, only practices will be allowed until further notice. Community use partners must follow NCDHHS guidelines for such usage.

When CMS student-athletes return to workouts or competition, community use of CMS outdoor facilities will return to normal in-season restrictions for community use, with CMS student-athletes and teams having priority.

Further communication about specific requirements for community use of outdoor athletic facilities, such as requirements for enhanced cleaning and disinfection, will be shared with existing community use, extended use, and joint use partners by Friday, Aug. 21.

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