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President Donald Trump is calling on governors to reopen schools closed because of the coronavirus, taking issue with Dr. Anthony Fauci's caution against moving too quickly in sending students back to class. (May 14) AP Domestic

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FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Activities Association Board of Directors voted in an 8-4 decision Thursday to allow schools to begin summer sports programs on June 15, but with a handful of restrictions.

They'll be limited to predominantly conditioning-related activities and with no drills involving direct contact, allowing each coach to work with five student athletes at a time.

Additionally, equipment cannot be shared, and no scrimmages can take place.

"It's definitely better than nothing... We're excited to get back on the turf, even if it's a few at a time," Farmington football coach Jeff Dalton said, adding that each position coach can work with groups of five. "We have to be creative and find different things out of our comfort zone. As long as we can get together and work, we're going to be fine... We're going to play the hand we're dealt."

Farmington Municipal Schools Athletic Director Frank Whalen also said it's a step in the right direction.

"It'll be good for their mental health, physical health. It'll be a sense that they can get back out... We've all been missing it," Whalen said.

Coronavirus updates: Here are the latest numbers from San Juan County, Four Corners region

Despite the restrictions, Bloomfield girls soccer coach Jamey Jones said it's a positive move for student-athletes because they're tired of being limited to video calls.

"I think they're ready for some interpersonal interaction," Jones said. "We can do a lot of things (where) the restrictions won't affect us as much as some sports, because we do use a large field. I feel very lucky for that, indeed."

The NMAA also announced that student-athletes’ physical examination results from the 2019-2020 school year can be applied to the 2020-2021 school year, but with three exceptions.

Student-athletes who suffered a new injury, received a new medical diagnosis or had contracted COVID-19 cannot apply their 2019-2020 physical results, and they must be cleared through an updated sports physical going into the new campaign.

Those who didn't receive a sports physical during the 2019-2020 school year must also have an updated physical.

Centralizing state golf championships

The NMAA also discussed the possibility of holding the tournament at three different courses throughout Albuquerque.

"The travel has no bearing," Piedra Vista boys golf coach Tom Yost said. "I don't have a problem with it. Albuquerque just makes sense... It's not that big of a deal. There's more golf course options... The golf courses are plentiful."

Yost also said it'd be better for teams in southeast New Mexico like Carlsbad and Hobbs because Albuquerque's a shorter drive than Farmington.

The 2019 5A golf championships were held at Four Hills Country Club in east Albuquerque.

In previous years, two of the three state golf tournaments, all of which feature classes 3A, 4A and 5A, were spread out across the Land of Enchantment, from Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs to Piñon Hills Golf Course in Farmington.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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