TAMPA, Fla. -- Fall sports return for the 2020-2021 school year as students return to the classroom.
The Hillsborough County School District announced remote learning for the first week of school and then students may return to the classroom the following week.
The football team returned to the field for practice on Monday. Players are following new safety guidelines during the pandemic.
"We've been lifting, conditioning six feet apart. It's different. We have to wear a mask around campus now," said Brandon Dessi, quarterback.
The first official practice day for fall sports was August 24 for Hillsborough County Public Schools. This is the earliest date allowed by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). Practices for fall sports also resumed in the Pasco County School District and the Pinellas County School District.
Patrick Murphy, Sickles High Head Football Coach, said football players are following safety guidelines.
Students are required to bring their own water bottles to practice. There is a new locker room procedure to limit the number of people at one time.
"We're going to follow the protocols that FHSAA laid out for us followed by the CDC. We are only going to have 15 coaches, players in there at a time right now, spraying it down. Immediately, when that group is done, waiting ten minutes to send in another group of 15. That's probably the biggest thing we got going on now," said Coach Murphy.
The FHSAA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has provided school districts with safety guidelines and protocols for COVID-19 to help keep players and coaching staff safe during practice and competition.
In the Pinellas County School district, the first sports to return to competition will be volleyball, cross country, swimming and golf on September 8. Varsity Football games will begin on September 11.
The Pinellas County School District is finalizing its procedures including spectator capacities in the stadium and gyms.
Coach Murphy hopes to create good habits among his football players.
"Just make sure you're keeping that social distancing. These are high school kids. We have to constantly remind them. The biggest thing is being consistent with them and hold them accountable for it," said Coach Murphy.
"We're going to have some type of contact, obviously, due to the nature of our sport, but limiting exposure anywhere we can."