ENID, Okla. — With athletic activities able to take the first steps Monday toward eventual full resumption of sports, people are anxious to get back to a sense of normalcy. From players to coaches to administrators, there is a sense of enthusiasm, but that will need to be tempered with caution as schools develop plans to safely begin the process.
"We have a great plan to ease kids back into it," said Enid Public Schools Athletic Director Billy Tipps on Thursday.
That process will begin for Enid student athletes on Monday with the voluntary strength and conditioning program. Tipps said for the first week it will mean workouts will only be outside, no inside workouts, and it will be done in accordance with the COVID-19 screening protocol developed by Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
The OSSAA screening process includes asking yes/no questions of student athletes relating to:
• Sore throat
• Loss of smell or taste
• Shortness of breath
• Close contact to COVD positive patients
Those answering "yes" to any of the above would be sent home.
Tipps said coaches will be screening the players and once workouts move inside that may include taking the temperature of the players.
Once the strength and conditioning workouts are able to move inside it will also require limiting the number of participants, but Tipps does not see that as an issue.
"We're lucky we have a weight room at Selby Stadium, we have a weight room at the school and we have something at [David Allen Memorial Ballpark]," Tipps said. "So, we have some ways to reduce the numbers. It will not be the same as normal. It will be reduced greatly."
That will mean, for instance, only two people at each rack in the weight room and how many racks would depend on how many people.
"Everything we are doing meets or exceeds what [the city of] Enid has for reopening, the state of Oklahoma's plan and we're trying to meet the things recommended by OSSAA," Tipps said.
The first week's outdoor activities will run from Monday through Thursday.
"We're not doing anything else other than strength and conditioning the first week," Tipps said. "Our strength and conditioning coach, Tracy Baldwin, has a great plan for everybody and all of our coaches are going through him for our workouts.
"The first week is going to be just about getting kids to show up and get them into some routines they haven't been in yet for the past 10 weeks. Basically, they've been on their own for 10 weeks. We know they're chomping at the bit but we want to provide a safe environment first and foremost."
After each day next week there will be an opportunity to review how the plan is proceeding.
"After the first day we'll visit as coaches to discuss what do we need to increase, what do we need to do to change or make it better and safer," Tipps said. "After Day 2 we'll do the same thing and we'll continue to do that until we feel we're providing the safest environment we can."
Tipps said a letter will be going out to EPS parents outlining the steps that are being taken.
Tipps said nothing has been formalized as far as the schedule for the upcoming football season. Like others, he has heard some chatter the schedule may include only district games but emphasizes that is just speculation at this time.
He also said that what happens may be dependent on how coronavirus is impacting other school districts.
"One thing we are going to have to keep in mind is not every city is going to have the same situation," he said. "That's going to play a part in a lot of things. Even though we're 6A, some of the schools we play are in a different situation and they're bigger cities in the Tulsa area and Oklahoma City area, so I don't know how that affects us when it comes to playing a full schedule."
Tipps said there may be some clarification regarding other activities coming from OSSAA’s board of directors when it convenes its next meeting on June 9.
“I think there will be direction in some ways,” he said. “I think there’ll be some direction on safety aspects and camps and clinics hopefully. Can we have camps? Can we go to camps? Those type of things.”