GAINESVILLE - Georgia high school sports took a step towards getting back to normal. On Monday, fall sports teams were allowed by the Georgia High School Association to work out for the first time, since activities were halted due to COVID-19.
"They're glad to be done with all the Zoom meetings," said Gainesville High School football coach Heath Webb. "We've seen their face on the computer screen, it's good to see them in person."
Not every school or district started their summer work on Monday. Fulton County, DeKalb County and Atlanta Public Schools are all looking at June 15th as their date to resume activities.
At Gainesville High School, students were assigned a specific time to arrive and work out. Groups were kept to 10 or fewer student athletes, which is smaller than the 20-person maximum set out by the GHSA. The players all answered questions about their health and had their temperature taken before they were allowed to do anything. Gainesville also kept all their work outside instead of using their weight room.
"One of the things that you'll continually hear out of our coaches is six feet, six feet," said Webb of the distance needed to maintain safe social distancing while working out. "Our coaches are doing a great job of making sure that we're following the policies."
Players were happy to get back to something closer to a normal offseason with their teammates and coaches.
"It's great to be back out at the high school, not sitting in my living room and doing workouts in the basement," said Gainesville rising-senior quarterback Tristan Lyon. "It's felt great coming here and seeing all my teammates, my coaches. Missed that a lot."
At the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, student athletes also answered questions and had their temperatures taken before getting started on Monday. The Wolves elected to use their weight room -- but before that, staff had rearranged the equipment to maintain a safe distance between students. The room was sanitized between uses. Players and coaches wore masks indoors, including while exercising. They also brought their own towels and water from home.
"They're not afraid, they're not worried [about COVID-19]," said Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen. "They're not looking around, thinking, 'am I in danger?' At the same time, they respect the fact that the world is different. They're handling this with a really mature attitude."
Coaches say they are waiting for guidance from the GHSA as to when they can take the next steps of training with their teams, including any on-field work or drills. While this offseason looks very different, they are confident their players will do the work needed to get prepared for what everyone hopes is a more normal-looking season in the fall.
"We're taking every imaginable precaution," said Pridgen. "At the same time we're looking for a way to get the work done, too."