Metro high school football practices begin with heightened health precautions

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KANSAS CITY METRO — High school football teams began practice this week for the upcoming fall 2020 season, but things are looking pretty different for coaches and athletes this summer.

“You just got to stress to these kids, if you do not feel right, you can not come to workouts,” Jon Holmes, coach of Bishop Miege, said. “For a kid that’s been sitting at home for 13 weeks, that’s hard for that kid to do.”

Lincoln Prep Coach William Lowe has Children’s Mercy trainer Mary Helfer screening kids before training begins. She asks questions like, “Have you been exposed to someone with COVID in the past 14 days?” and “Have you had or been exposed to someone with a temperature over 100?” Also, she asks if players experienced any different symptoms, like coughing, shortness of breath, chills, headaches and sore throat among others

But it’s more than just asking about symptoms. Many schools, like Lincoln Prep, are taking temperatures of everyone at the start of each practice.

Holmes said usually they don’t have an athletic trainer at summer workouts, but the company that provides an athletic trainer for them has allowed for them to be on hand 10 hours each week.

Then there’s the steps on the field.

“When we’re working out we try to keep it to 10-12 per group, so it’s been good so far,” Holmes said. “We’ve changed something every day just to make sure we know what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Both coaches have limits to how many can be on the field at one time. At Miege, it’s 45. At Lincoln Prep, 50.  Social distancing is a keep for running. Sanitizing is also a priority for equipment.

“We’re not able to do sports activities, so right now everything’s been conditioning and workouts, weights, workouts, everything has to be wiped down,” Lowe said. “If a kid touches it before the next group rotates.”

And then there’s the issue of kids just getting in shape.

“Kids had 93 days off, from the last time we were in school till June 15, the first day of workouts,” Lowe said. “Having had long off not knowing what kids were doing and what some kids were, we have to tailor our workouts into gradually getting them back.”

The plan going forward is to try and keep this going as safely as possible

“If we can keep showing positive steps like that, I think it gives us all hope for the fall,” Lowe said.

“I’ve had some of the kids this week say, ‘Hey Coach do you think we’re going to have a season?’ Obviously we’re thinking positive and want that to happen, but the reality is nobody quite knows yet,” Holmes said.

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