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Committee Recommends Delay for Florida HS Sports

Andy Berg

The Florida sports medicine advisory committee has laid out a new set of recommendations and suggested a delay for high school sports in the state.

Just two days before a Friday meeting that was expected to layout plans for the coming season, the Florida High School Athletic Association's medical committee, known as SMAC, recommended a start no earlier than Sept. 28 and called for a new set of benchmarks to begin competition for the 2020-21 school year

The FHSAA’s board of directors had expected to begin practices in Florida on Aug. 24, with competition set to start as early as Sept. 4, according to Jacksonville.com.

In a report scheduled for Friday's board meeting, SMAC laid out four key guidelines for resuming competition this fall, including:

  • A positivity percentage in new cases, computed as a seven-day rolling average, below 5 percent for at least 14 days. That benchmark is less stringent than its prior recommendation, which called for 28 days. 
  • An Effective Reproduction number lower than 1 for at least 14 days. This statistic, as defined by the World Health Organization, estimates the number of people expected to be infected by each positive case.
  • New cases per 100,000 in a population to be showing a downward trend for at least 14 days. The committee cited Harvard Global Health Institute data pointing to greater than 25 new cases per 100,000 to be defined as "critical and uncontrolled spread," denoted by a red graphic, and between 10 to 25 as "high risk," in orange. Lesser risks are "cautionary," colored yellow for 1 to 10 per 100,000, and "contained," for lower levels.
  • As under the previous measures, teams would need at least two weeks of practice before beginning competition for heat acclimatization and conditioning. 

The current FHSAA timeline, with practice starting Aug. 24 and practice on Sept. 4, would not fall within those guidelines. 

The SMAC said it unanimously favored the FHSAA's Option 3, which would delay the start of a number of sports. However, the committee also felt there was room for modification from the original Option 3, which would have delayed the start of practice to Nov. 30.

Last month, the FHSAA board acted against SMAC recommendations in electing to retain a starting date of July 27. However, the board reversed course in an emergency meeting three days later, voting 11-4 to push back fall practice to its current start date of Aug. 24.

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