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Polk County Public Schools Senior Coordinator of Athletics Dan Talbot said that some details about the start of high school football season were still unknown during a PCPS Reopening Task Force meeting held July 8.

Talbot said his recommendation to the school board, given the unusual circumstances, would be to delay extracurricular activities until sometime in early September.

There was some discussion of mandating that football players wear cloth masks under their helmets. There was also some discussion about allowing students to remove masks during playground physical activity.

The school board may have further discussed these matters July 14, in a meeting held after press time.

Upcoming football practices in Polk and throughout the state are also newsworthy because Florida legislators enacted the Zachary Martin Act earlier this year, with the legislation having taken effect July 1.

The Zachary Martin Act aims to protect student-athletes from heat stroke in several ways. For example, the new law requires school staff to be trained in recognizing heat stroke, trained in the use of AED devices, addresses emergency cooling procedures, and mandates coaching staffs provide more water breaks as temperatures rise. It also disallows outdoor practice once a temperature reaches a certain point, among other changes.

Talbot said the county is considering a policy of not allowing any organized athletic activity outdoors between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This policy may include activities such as cheerleading and ROTC, among other extracurricular outdoor activities, if passed as recommended.

Under normal circumstances, first football practices would begin on July 27, Talbot said.