Charles County Public Schools has adopted heat acclimatization guidelines that were recently outlined by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for student athletes. The guidelines outline safe methods to use during preseason practice periods to help build heat tolerance for student athletes, and their ability to exercise safely and effectively in warm to hot conditions to minimize their risk for a heat-related illness.
The guidelines primarily focus on fall sports, in which preseason practice periods begin in the summer, but apply to the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. They include equipment restrictions, outlined periods of rest, hydration awareness information and emergency action plan details.
The school system held a mandatory meeting earlier this month for all head and assistant athletic coaches to discuss the guidelines. Charles County Public Schools six high school athletic directors met to discuss the guidelines outlined by MSDE, and agreed to adopt their model policy. As part of the guidelines, coaches are required to take an online course before coaching in their season.
The approved guidelines apply to the preseason practice periods required prior to the first play date. Important components of the guidelines are listed below and will be implemented when preseason practice for sports begins on Saturday, Aug. 11.
- One walk through is permitted for student athletes on single practice days. A walk through is a teaching opportunity in which students do not dress in protective or other sports-related equipment.
- Double practice days, which can begin no earlier than the sixth day of practice, must be followed by either a single practice day or a rest day. When a double practice day is followed by a rest day, another double practice day can be held after the rest day.
- All practices and walk-through sessions for athletes must be separated by three hours of continuous rest.
- If practices and walk-through sessions are interrupted by inclement weather or heat restrictions, the practice can continue once conditions are deemed safe but total practice time should not exceed its limitations.
- On practice days one through five, teams are limited to one practice per day and cannot exceed three hours. One walk-through session can be held per day but must not exceed one hour in duration.
- On practice days six through 14, the total practice and walk-through time per day for student athletes should be limited to five hours, with no single session lasting longer than three hours in duration. Teams may also participate in full contact practice sessions with all protective equipment worn.
- The guidelines also include restrictions on the use of specific athletic equipment during the first five days of practice for football and field hockey players.
The guidelines outlined by MSDE and adopted by Charles County Public Schools were created by representatives from several state agencies, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSA) and the Maryland Athletic Trainers Association, as well as sports medicine physicians and local school system members. The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year to address preseason heat acclimatization for student athletes. The statute requires that each local school system adopt preseason guidelines.
A copy of MSDE's model policy is posted on the Charles County Public Schools website, under the students section, at http://www2.ccboe.com/Model_Policy_for_Heat_Acclimatization_Guidelines1.pdf.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,700 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 caring community schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students), or Keith Hettel, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646; (301) 932-6610/870-3814. For special accommodations call (301) 934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.