High school sports may still be in limbo during the next full year, but athletes that plan to participate still have to get physicals. COVID-19 has delayed those tests, but St. Bernards will offer free, comprehensive student-athlete pre-participation evaluations for area high school students on August 1 at First National Bank Arena.
The Arkansas Activities Association announced late Tuesday (July 7) it is preparing to resume activities and athletics this fall in accordance with its calendar. Plans are being developed that will comply with all safety directives from the state and that should allow for a safe return to participation. States that border Arkansas are making similar plans, the AAA said.
“These preparations are contingent upon the compliance with all directives by the governor’s office and the department of health,” the AAA stated in a release.
In previous years, these physical evaluations were done in conjunction with St. Bernards Health & Fitness Expo held each April. St. Bernards director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Dr. Devi Nair, serves as Health & Fitness Expo physician chair. She says organizers immediately started planning a future date to conduct the physicals, knowing their importance to help regional youth stay healthy.
“We’re offering more than routine physical examinations,” Dr. Nair said. “A comprehensive, multi-specialty exam can identify underlying health issues or potential issues athletes should address. Through early detection, we can prevent more serious injuries or health conditions.”
Athletic physicals normally carry a 12-month expiration date from the time of examination. Due to the ongoing presence of COVID-19, however, the AAA expanded that period to 15 months, allowing student-athletes greater flexibility in completing their physicals while continuing to perform and practice. St. Bernards Senior Vice President of Administrative Services Kevin Hodges says the expanded date falls short of the August 1 examinations, but St. Bernards has coordinated with schools to ensure no student-athlete is sidelined from an expired physical.
“Our goal is to keep these young people playing and practicing,” Hodges said. “We appreciate the AAA working with us, and we, in turn, have worked with our area schools to meet their specific needs.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Bernards will also offer free physicals to high schools outside Craighead County. Trumann and Harrisburg both plan to participate, while Buffalo Island Central, on the outskirts of Craighead County, will as well.
“We think this program is one of the best no-cost services provided to area athletes,” Hodges said. “The pandemic certainly made it more difficult for us to conduct these physicals, but we are committed to the program, and we did not wish to abandon our plans to help as many schools as possible. We’re grateful we can do both.”
Student-athletes interested should visit stbernards.info/student-athlete-pre-participation-evaluations and complete the necessary paperwork to register. Due to the high demand of these examinations, students are encouraged to register as soon as possible. In addition, all attendees must practice social distancing and wear a facial covering.