Fitness gym

LINCOLN — Besides youth baseball and softball, Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday gave high school athletes in Nebraska something to anticipate in June.

Ricketts said schools, with social distancing, can reopen weight rooms starting June 1. As with fitness gyms, the limit of 10 people in a room with 6 feet of separation must be observed.

School officials say they will seek to get more answers this week on what else could be allowable under the governor’s guidelines, such as conditioning work and individual-skills camps.

Youth teams in baseball and softball, given two pages of reopening guidelines on Monday, can practice beginning June 1 and play games starting June 18.

NSAA Executive Director Jay Bellar said he will talk Tuesday with State Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt. Bellar was part of a panel for school superintendents Monday afternoon, after the governor’s briefing, that included Blomstedt and Ricketts.

Bellar said that last week, Blomstedt brought him on to the commissioner’s weekly superintendents advisory council.

“The way it looks to me,” Bellar said, “not much has changed for (the NSAA) other than there seems to be some stipulation that weight rooms could be open if the kids can come back to school, which I think the commissioner is going to, but I guess I haven’t talked to him about that yet.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, school facilities have been closed to students since late March, with no extracurricular activities permitted under a directed health measure issued by the governor. The order expires May 31.

With a 10-person limit, larger schools will have more difficulties in weight rooms than smaller schools. One possible solution could be moving equipment into multiple rooms and assigning a coach to each one. Day care facilities operate in such a manner.

Nolan Beyer, the athletic director for Millard’s three high schools, said safety will be the top consideration.

“We will spend the next few days determining if we can provide a safe environment for our athletes,” he said. “If we determine we can, we would like to provide them an opportunity to train.”

Ricketts said baseball and softball are well suited to be first as the state begins the reopening of sports.

“They’re the sports that are more socially distant anyway,” he said. “And we want to take this a step at a time, roll this out, and see how we can make this work.”

Blomstedt said officials will be watching how players, fans and coaches interact to see what they can learn in restoring sports in the fall. He said the baseball/softball guidelines were developed with an eye toward “what’s safe and what works” for teams, games and practices.

He said schools were getting a lot of questions about the use of their facilities for sports.

Blomstedt heads up an effort called “Launch Nebraska,” which deals with how to reopen schools and all activities.

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