Local schools not surprised SCISA pushed back start date of Phase 2


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With the dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of South Carolina in the past week, the South Carolina Independent School Association decided to move back the start of Phase 2 of its practicing guidelines from Monday to Thursday.

None of the athletic directors at the local SCISA schools were caught by surprise.

"It's really what I expected," said Laurence Manning Academy AD Russ Jordan. "SCISA decided to err on side of safety and caution, and that's the right thing to do. They're geared toward the safety of the student-athletes."

"I kind of saw it coming with the recent spike across South Carolina," said Thomas Sumter Academy athletic director Tanner Brunson. "They decided to put safety first, and I think that was a pretty smart move to push it back."

After shutting down spring sports for the 2019-20 school year in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, SCISA announced its schools could start Phase 1 of its return to sports on June 1 with Phase 2 to go into effect on Monday. However, SCISA released a statement on Thursday saying the start would be pushed back a few days.

"South Carolina has had a significant bump or spike in the number of cases in the past (seven) days," the SCISA announcement said. "(The delay) will provide an additional week of medical information to determine any need to reconsider or adjust workout guidelines."

LMA, TSA, Wilson Hall and Robert E. Lee Academy all began their Phase 1 workouts on June 1. Clarendon Hall began workouts on Monday as the other schools were beginning their second week of workouts.

Phase 1 of the plan included guidelines for conditioning workouts, including temperature checks, face masks, social distancing and sanitation measures.

"We haven't had any trouble so far," said REL AD and football head coach David Rankin. "We've been checking the temperature and symptoms and we've had no one with a fever. Everything has been good so far."

In fact, all of the ADs and Clarendon Hall football head coach Anthony Ritenour reported that not one of their student-athletes has registered a temperature.

"Everything has been working really well for us," said Wilson Hall AD Glen Rector, who has had the football, volleyball, cross country and swim teams involved in Phase 1 workouts. "The coaches were ready, kids were ready to move on had there not been any problems. We felt like we were ready for Phase 2."

The second phase involves introducing equipment to the workouts. That means passing, catching or handing off a football, hitting a volleyball or passing a basketball.

REL will continue Phase 1 workouts the first part of the week in hopes of being able to move to Phase 2 on Thursday. Wilson Hall, LMA and TSA hope to start Phase 2 on Thursday as well. Ritenour said his team won't be moving on to Phase 2 this week even though it could.

"We're going to be working out Monday through Friday," he said. "We're going to be focusing on strength and speed. We're not to the point of getting the ball involved. We're working on speed, strength and footwork."

LMA has had cross country training already and will add volleyball, girls tennis and basketball practices this week when Phase 2 begins.

TSA has had several teams going through Phase 1 and REL will add some teams this week as well.

Along with pushing back the Phase 2 date, SCISA also announced that two previous training "dead periods" could be used for training. Those dates are the weeks of July 4 and July 27-29.