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Schools Change Sports Practice Times for Student Safety

The heat wave sweeping across the nation has brought heat indexes of 120 degrees Fahrenheit in certain parts of the country in recent days. In Tennessee, the sky-high temperatures prompted schools to change the times of sports practices to keep their student-athletes safe.

Jim Glover, football coach at McNairy Central High School in Selmer, Tenn., told The Jackson Sun that his team had been starting practices at 6 a.m. to avoid the heat.

"We're going to have two-a-days in the last week of July without pads," Glover said. "We're going to go from 6 to 8 then 10 to noon. Then we'll have the rest of the day to do whatever we need to do. The coaches enjoy it and have wondered why this hasn't been the way it's been done all along."

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association prohibits schools from sending students out to practice when the heat index exceeds 105 degrees. When the heat index falls between 95 and 104 degrees, coaches in Tennessee must provide ample water at all times in practice, take mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minute periods, and re-check the heat index every 30 minutes.

The TSSAA also recommends pushing practice back later in the day or sending student-athletes into indoor, air-conditioned spaces for practice. Coaches, with few other options, have had to schedule practice early in the morning or later at night to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

Coaches at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tenn., told WBIR.com that they measure the heat index every 30 minutes with a tool called a digital psychorometer. The Heritage coaches also give their football players water breaks (with ice) every 20 minutes.

"All of our camps were scheduled for 6:30 p.m. originally," University School of Jackson head coach Mickey Marley told the Sun. "But there were a couple of days last week when we checked the heat index then, and it was up to 112."

This marks the third year for the TSSAA's heat-index rules, according to the Associated Press.

The National Weather Service issued an alert yesterday warning that the heat wave would continue sending heat indexes above 120 degrees in certain places. Much to our chagrin at EdWeek, it appears that the East Coast is currently falling victim to the heat wave.

According to weather.com, it's supposed to be 102 degrees in Washington, D.C., today, with a heat index around 115 degrees. Stay safe and stay inside as much as possible if you're in temperatures like this, folks.

UPDATE (12:50 p.m.): H/T to ASCD SmartBrief for this one. Tennessee isn't the only state adjusting sports practices due the the heat wave, according to the Associated Press. Schools in Oklahoma and Kansas are adjusting their practice schedules accordingly as well.

"Ultimately, we never want to take a chance on a player or a coach's health and well-being," said Allan Trimble, the football coach at Jenks (Okla.) High School. "It's simply not worth the risk."

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