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The Georgia High School Association is the governing body of high school sports in the state of Georgia.

Georgia High School Association officials approved a plan Thursday afternoon that would allow schools to begin summer conditioning June 8.

The move is a promising sign that fall sports will happen despite lingering concerns over COVID-19. However, several guidelines will be in place limiting what athletes are allowed to do and how long they will be allowed in the facilities at each time.

Competition between schools is still prohibited at this time.

Officials originally proposed a June 1 start date, but discussion led to the June 8 date in an effort to give schools more time to prepare for the restrictions that will be in place once activities resume.

"We thought June 1 from the get-go was the date we wanted," said Hines in response to the board. "We were going to look at Gov. Brian Kemp's guidance, what the medical professionals were telling us and that's what we did. If we want to go to June 8, then I will change the date to June 8 and put it out there."

"It's been a lot of work, and we've been working on this for quite some time now." 

No more than 20 people will be allowed to use a school's facility at a time, including coaches, and will require each group of 20 to remain the same to limit exposure. There should also be a 15-minute window between sessions to clean and sanitize.

The GHSA mandated workouts are to be conditioning only and should not include any sport-specific equipment. Use of school locker rooms is prohibited, as athletes are required to dress and shower at home. Athletes are also required to use their own water bottle.

It was also stressed that all summer workouts are voluntary. While not required, face mask are recommended for the weight room.

The GHSA suggests athletes and staff be tested be screened for COVID-19 before each session, though the organization stopped short at requiring an "infectious disease prevention plan," instead leaving that up to individual schools.

July 27 is the first official start date for fall sports activities for the 2020-21 school year. THE GHSA suspended all activities in March in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Since that time, schools around the state have been in limbo about when activities could resume.

The announcement came just a day after the NCAA approved a plan that would allow collegiate student-athletes back on campus starting June 1.

Brett Fowler is the sports editor of The Walton Tribune. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of North Georgia and a 2010 graduate of Monroe Area High School. Brett has been covering Walton County sports since 2011.