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High schools in the Valley forming plans for out-of-season practices

 High schools in the Shenandoah Valley are forming plans for student-athletes and coaches to return to school for out-of-season practices over the summer.
High schools in the Shenandoah Valley are forming plans for student-athletes and coaches to return to school for out-of-season practices over the summer. (WHSV)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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High schools in the Shenandoah Valley are forming plans for student-athletes and coaches to return to school for out-of-season practices over the summer.

Last week, the Virginia High School League announced offseason practices could resume starting Monday, June 15. Schools have been shut down since March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We all miss our kids," said Turner Ashby athletic director Will Crockett. "Our coaches desperately miss our kids. They want to work with them. So obviously we are excited."

However, for athletes and coaches at TA and around Rockingham County it's still unknown when they will be able to return to school facilities. Crockett says plans for Turner Ashby, Spotswood, Broadway, and East Rockingham could be finalized by the end of the week.

"We don't want to make a decision and rush back before and then have guidelines come out and contradict what we are doing," said Crockett. "That wouldn't be a good idea so we have to be very deliberate and careful."

In Augusta County, high schools will begin welcoming athletes and coaches back on June 29. This applies to Wilson Memorial, Stuarts Draft, Fort Defiance, Buffalo Gap, and Riverheads.

"We met as a group of five athletics directors and it was unanimous and it was quick," said Wilson Memorial athletic director Craig Flesher. "We knew that to do this right, it wasn't going to happen (June) 15th. We wanted to make sure student safety and coach safety was at the forefront. So we wanted time to communicate."

In Shenandoah County, athletics directors and principals from Strasburg, Central, and Stonewall Jackson high schools met Wednesday and formed on a plan to open up facilities for offseason workouts beginning July 6.

"It's going to be limited probably to a lot of conditioning and things like that early on which I think is a good thing," said Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman. "I think they are going to need to get back into shape before we get going too far."

Page County and Luray high schools are planning to begin a modified conditioning program on July 13. Harrisonburg, Waynesboro, and Staunton high schools are still in the process of developing plans for student-athletes to return to campus for offseason workouts. No dates have yet been announced for these schools.

All schools in Virginia must submit their plans to the Virginia Department of Education detailing how they will begin offseason workouts with safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When out-of-season practices resume, they will have a different look than in past summers.

"Shared equipment will not be an option at this point,: said Flesher. "Weight rooms may look a little different for the interim period."

Crockett added: "I think you'll see social distancing will be the requirement and expectation. So that means no shared equipment. No shared water bottles. Very, very limited or no locker room access. There will be some serious restrictions. It won't look normal."

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