COLUMBIA- Missouri High school athletic organizers believe Covid-19 health guidelines will bring up the vital role athletic trainers will need to take this fall sports season.

In MSHSAA’s guidelines and recommendations for opening sports and activities on July 15, leaders feared athletic trainers would be seen as a "luxury" given the financial crisis at state and local levels.

Some Mid-Missouri schools use a company named Peak Sport and Spine for athletic trainers. Schools get one trainer who oversees any and all sports related medical needs.

Stefanie West, Director of Sports Medicine at Peak Sport and Spine, said athletic trainers will be seen as the infection control point person at each school.

"We work pretty closely with our school nurses in the school setting but on the field, in the gym, and those settings it's going to rely on athletic trainers and coaches to work together," West said.

But in those athletic settings, athletic trainers will oversee and monitor things like hydration, injuries, or if someone has Covid-19-like symptoms.

The next problem trainers will face is the ability to social distance in the training rooms. For some high schools like Hickman, there is a large enough space to social. Other schools like Tolton Catholic does not.

"In a tight space like this social distancing is pretty hard so I think one or two people in here at a time would be sufficient but we're still trying to play around with some ideas," Bryce Roark, Tolton’s athletic trainer, said.

West said most likely coaches will run screening tests, which includes questions staff would ask students before events.

West said her biggest concern is centered around heat illness.

"We haven't done much this summer for acclimation, so a lot of these kids we worry about sitting inside all day in air conditioning or they work in air conditioning and they stay up all night playing their games in air conditioning and then were going to show up August 10 and not be used to the heat," West said.

Many schools have implemented hydration stations to be able to eliminate the use of shared water bottles, but West said trainers are concerned that they won't have the right things to help players when they need it.

"When someone's cramping, we start pumping electrolytes. So we got to have Gatorade, Powerade, any electrolytes that we have that's got to be available to them. So the idea of every athlete bringing their own water bottle in every large setting is going to be pretty tough to do, because it's an emergency situation so we're going to have to have something on hand," West said.

If a player does test positive for Covid-19, MSHSAA has released guidelines on what will take place.

If an athlete does test positive, they have to wait 14 days since the positive test with no participation in sports to potentially be able to play again.

If they had no symptoms, they can gradually return to playing, but coaches and trainers should monitor any signs of respiratory or cardiac symptoms that may develop with exercise.

If the player did have symptoms, the symptoms have to be resolved with no fever for 72 hours and there has to be an improvement in respiratory symptoms. The player must get a medical evaluation by a health care provider and answer screening questions. If the player has a negative screen, they are able to gradually return to playing and must be monitored for any signs of respiratory or cardiac symptoms.

If any player who tested positive for Covid starts to have ongoing concerning symptoms or exercise related symptoms after 4-6 weeks after returning to play, they must get checked by an health care provider.

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