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AHS announces return-to-play procedure

Alpena High School has taken the first step toward having sports this fall.

Alpena Athletic Director Tim Storch announced Thursday, that the school had entered Phase 1 of a four-phase return to play procedure for an eventual return to all athletic activities this fall. The first phase, which begins on Monday, will be a soft opening for conditioning for football and volleyball.

“There’s a lot of hoops we’ve got to jump through, there’s no question about that,” Storch said in a video statement. “But it’s a start.”

Athletes will receive further instructions from their respective coaches on when and where to meet, but team activities will look a little different as part of the initial phase includes no access to the high school.

Athletes will be put in pods of 10 people or less, as organized by their coaches, and must remain in those same pods during subsequent workouts to help adhere to social distancing guidelines. Coaches will also keep records of each athlete’s temperature and health status before each workout.

Conditioning workouts will focus on things like stamina and muscle memory as athletes return to their first team activities in three months. Athletes must bring their own water and equipment to workouts and no sports-specific equipment like footballs and volleyballs is allowed.

Organized athletic activities have been on hold since March when the Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended all sports activities in an effort to deter the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

As of Thursday, there have been 103 positive cases of COVID-19 in Alpena County with 11 deaths and 80 recoveries.

Storch said athletes who don’t feel comfortable about coming to workouts due to COVID-19 concerns, will not be penalized and can join activities when things are safer.

With a plan in place, put together in conjunction with the MHSAA, Storch is optimistic Alpena’s fall sports seasons will proceed as planned, but stressed that following all procedures to a tee is crucial, especially early in the process.

“We anticipate that the state is moving in that direction and that our governor will give us the go-ahead. We really look forward to fall sports coming off as a planned,” Storch said. “We get one shot at this and if we mess it up, we’re at risk of losing sports.”

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