Kathryn PerricoUpdated: July 23, 2020

*On July 22, 2020, the Ohio Dept. of Health issued a second Order extending the expiration date of the Order below to July 31, 2020. The second Order can be found here.

On July 7, 2020, just over three weeks after contact practice for all sports activities and non-contact sport competitions were permitted to resume, the Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health issued a second amended Order and guidance relating to practices and competitions.  The Order is in effect for only eight days. Nevertheless, the content is significant because it sheds light on what the future may hold. It can be anticipated that future extensions or amendments of this Order in one form or another may be adopted to impose similar requirements into the fall sports season. Therefore, all players, coaches, trainers, officials, organizers and spectators should be made aware of the expectations.

So for the next week at least, and perhaps continuing into the future depending on whether the “situation continues to improve” or “deteriorates,” contact practice and training may resume for all sports. Competitive games and tournaments are also permitted to resume for non-contact sports, subject to the previously existing guidelines relating to symptom assessment, distancing, avoiding shared equipment where possible, and mask wearing. For contact sports, no practices or open gyms with other teams or groups or inter-team scrimmages or competitive games are permitted unless all involved teams comply with Section 9 of the Order.

In addition to the existing guidelines, Section 9 provides stringent requirements, which include:

  • Denial of participation for anyone displaying symptoms within 72 hours of the event
  • Acknowledgment of receipt of materials explaining Covid-19 precautions
  • Receipt of a negative test before traveling to the competition
  • Testing of all participating athletes and team staff members no more than 72 hours prior to the competition
  • Denial of participation for all individuals or teams with a member testing positive and with strict adherence to quarantine guidelines
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Repeated testing at 4 days and every 2 thereafter for tournaments of a longer nature
  • Separate team areas for pre-competition practice
  • Daily certification to the local health department that protocols are being followed
  • Maintenance of a contact log for all participants, and provision of the log to local and state departments of health upon request
  • Denial of access to spectators
  • Communication to and coordination with the local health department upon learning of a positive case

The implications for school districts of such stringent requirements, should they be extended into the fall, are vast. Careful planning, oversight, and development and maintenance of required documents will be needed. Consultation with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), local departments of health, and board counsel is advisable.

Kathy Perrico is a partner at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at kperrico@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2948.