Citing the need for student-athletes to reconnect with their coaches and peers after an extended absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control voted to eliminate its summer dead period for 2020 on Thursday afternoon.

The current dead period, established March 16 following the coronavirus outbreak, will expire on May 31.

“Let’s get these kids back with their coaches, sooner than later,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said. “It’s important that they get back out there, personally.

“It’s important that we put the value of athletics out there.”

The vote to eliminate the summer dead period — June 25-July 9 — passed by a 13-5 margin.

Also approved was a period between June 1-14 that would allow in-person opportunities between student-athletes and coaches, while meeting social-distancing guidelines. This will also be a period for planning, getting supplies ready — including personal protective equipment (PPE) — and providing physical examination forms for student-athletes. There will be no athletic activities during this period.

The board also approved June 15-28 as a period for workouts and conditioning, with practices for low-contact sports and workouts for high-contact sports.

A period between June 29-July 12 was approved for competition for low-contact sports and specialized drill training for high-contact sports.

“I feel better that there is now a road map for our local districts to follow,” said Muhlenberg County High School principal Donna Bumps, a board of control member who serves as female representative for regions 1-8.

“Our coaches have been staying in contact with our student-athletes the entire time things have been shut down, and now they’ll able to see their teammates and coaches, following social-distancing guidelines.

Tackett acknowledged the daunting and unprecedented challenges the pandemic presents.

“Going forward we’ve got to really preach patience among all our constituents out there,” Tackett said. “The situation is fluid — it could change. We have to be ready to do some things differently.

“We don’t have the authority to do our own thing. There’s a perception of some autonomy that does not exist. We will be congruent with and not contradict the governor’s orders.”

Tackett is also keeping a close eye on states opening up athletic activities earlier than Kentucky.

“We’re watching other states who are out there early,” he said. “We want to gain an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work.

“We’re giving guidance — central control of what’s going on transfers to local control later on.”

Tackett noted that some regions of Kentucky have been hit hard by the pandemic and are more reluctant to proceed, while other regions have not been as adversely affected and are eager to get going.

“We are a microcosm of what’s going on in the whole country,” Tackett said. “We’re excited to get some activity back on our campuses where districts feel comfortable with this.”

Tackett also noted that the KHSAA does not have the jurisdiction to waive physical exams, and that the KHSAA will not adopt an extra eligibility waiver for any individual seeking an additional year of eligibility due to COVID-19.

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