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NMAA board to discuss return of athletes

At last, we have a date:

June 15.

Maybe.

That is the date the staff of the New Mexico Activities Association is recommending to its board of directors to begin phasing in the return of high school athletics around the state.

“It’s important to get these kids back for some type of normalcy,” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said.

On Thursday morning, the board will meet to vote on this lengthy proposal, which is incredibly complex, extremely detailed and features scores of moving parts. (Click here for the board’s packet to prep for the meeting.)

There are two other dates – June 29 and July 6 – that the board may consider instead of June 15. The most popular choice in an NMAA survey of the state’s athletic directors was June 15, which is why that date is the one being presented to the board. July 6 was the second-most popular start-up date as voted on by the ADs, followed (distantly) by June 29.

And this is all just for phase one, which, among its many features, will forbid contact in any sport. And not every school district will be required to start on whatever date is voted upon. Some may decide to begin later.

Phase one is defined by the NMAA as the following: individual skill development and workouts, no contact with others, no sharing of equipment, and no games or scrimmages. There is no known date to begin phase two or phase three.

Whatever date is implemented by an individual school district in terms of summer workouts – which, for the first time, is being overseen by the NMAA – staff members, including coaches, must receive a COVID-19 test. This will not be mandatory for athletes, although their temperatures will be taken every day they show up for workouts.

The athlete-to-coach ratio will be no greater than 5-to-1.

There has been nothing finalized regarding the shape and nature of fall sports. That, as Marquez has previously said, will likely not happen until July.

But the NMAA took the unusual step of sending out a tweet Wednesday, reminding people that there has been no official announcement or decision on the fall. This was in response to some rampant internet/social media speculation that there will be no sports in the fall.

Of note, there was a paragraph in the packet for Thursday’s board meeting – and it is one of the most specific statements yet from the NMAA about possible coronavirus scenarios in the fall – that spoke to the uncertainty that COVID-19 has already created, and the havoc it may yet wreak on New Mexico’s prep sports landscape:

“With the uncertainty of recurrent outbreaks this coming fall, member schools must be prepared for periodic school closures and the possibility of some teams having to isolate for two or more weeks while in-season.”

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