The Virginia High School League has issued relaxed guidelines for teams practicing during the Phase Three restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new restrictions allow for more team-oriented practices. Balls, bats and tackling dummies can be used, all of which were not allowed under Phase Two.
In the Richmond area, smaller school divisions have allowed teams to return to practice, while larger ones have not. Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Powhatan, Goochland and King William allowed their teams to meet for practice around the beginning of July.
Hanover County signed off on its teams returning Monday. Henrico, Chesterfield and Richmond have not allowed their teams to return to the field yet.
Henrico will finalize plans for out-of-season practice this week, schools spokesman Andy Jenks said. The district leadership waited to make its plans because it wanted to the VHSL to issue its guidance first, and because school athletics directors don’t work during the month of July. Henrico wants to institute a plan that is flexible enough to use in the event that Virginia is moved back and forth between phases in the months to come.
Under the new restrictions, a baseball team can take infield practice, throwing the ball from player to player. In football, a quarterback can throw passes to receivers running their routes. A basketball team can put players on the court, passing, shooting and rebounding.
Bats, balls, sleds, tackling dummies, batting helmets and catchers gear are allowed. They must be disinfected before, during and after practice.
Under the Phase Two restrictions, practices were mostly limited to conditioning and individual work.
Many of the old restrictions remain. Ten feet of distance must continue to be observed between participants, meaning football players can’t tackle, and basketball players can’t play defense. Equipment must be sprayed down, and students must return home to shower.
Last week, the VHSL’s executive committee voted to play all three seasons between December and June. But the leagues’ executive director, Billy Haun, cautioned the committee that high-risk sports, such as football, basketball and lacrosse, can’t be played under the current conditions. Either Virginia will need to move beyond Phase Three, instructions from the Virginia Department of Health would needed to be loosened, or sports would have to be modified to reclassify them as moderate-risk for them to be played.
The VHSL has taken a more conservative approach than many pay-to-play club leagues across the state, which have resumed play in high-risk sports such as basketball and lacrosse.
Levi Huseman, a rising junior at Hanover, has committed to Coastal Carolina. Huseman is a left-handed pitcher. Two Richmond-area players were on the Coastal Carolina roster in 2020: infielder Zack Beach of Atlee and pitcher Casey Green
- of Benedictine.
- , a rising senior at Collegiate, has committed to play lacrosse for Sewanee.