Under the Elk Grove Unified School District’s plan to re-open sports, higher-risk sports such as football will start in the final phase of the four-part plan.

In the fall, playing a game could very much be a reality for student-athletes after the Elk Grove Unified School District approved a plan to re-open school-related athletics during the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

The plan includes four phases; the first competitions could be played with lower-risk sports and would start in the second phase of the Educational Athletics Plan Overview.

EGUSD submitted the plan to the Sacramento County Public Health department last week for approval and posted the approved plan on the district’s athletics website.

Before moving on to the next phase of the plan, schools would need to seek approval from on-site administration as well as EGUSD athletic director Rod Edmiston.

The district sent a newsletter to district families and students last week and noted that it expected to begin phasing in the program this week and that student-athletes should get a physical done if they haven’t already done so, if they expect to participate in sports in 2020-21.

The plan follows social distancing guidelines and implements safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the safety precautions are making hand sanitizer plentiful for athletes and coaches, having a no-touch thermometer at each school, pre-screening athletes before athletic activity by teams, training coaches on how to proceed with the phase plan effectively, and thoroughly cleaning school facilities.

Phase one is similar to guidelines released by the National Federation of State High School Associations and the California Interscholastic Federation, allowing no more than 10 people at a time, requiring face masks to be worn by both athletes and coaches or as directed by the county public health office except for swimming or high aerobic sports and requiring screenings of coaches and athletes prior to athletic activity.

In phase two, up to 50 people can gather outside and 10 people inside, and locker rooms can be used as long as there are six feet between people. Workout groups are specified to allow for only the same 5-10 people in each group to work out together each time.

Athletes who compete in lower risk sports, which are labeled as “sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors” such as individual running or throwing events, individual swimming, golf, sideline cheer and cross-country (with staggered starts) will have their opportunity in phase two.

Moderate risk sports practices and competitions are allowed in phase three, and up to 50 people are allowed both indoor and outdoors.

According to the plan, moderate risk sports are “sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or intermittent close contact or group sports or sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.”

In phase four, schools will be able to have all of their sports, including higher risk sports including football, wrestling and competitive cheer.