"We have to have a standardized policy that within our state all the schools are doing the same thing and I know we're not Texas, we're not Florida, we're not Georgia," Rooks said, "but we have to have a policy of protection because hindsight is 20/20. We can look back and say that was a 90-degree day but people have different interpretations of what heat is and what humidity is, so we have to have a standardized policy so there's a reference tool for our coaches."
Still parts of the policy have been interpreted differently. The three-hour break between the practice and the walkthrough can be used for classroom study in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties while Baltimore City, and Baltimore and Howard counties mandate a complete break.
Rooks prefers the complete break because she said coaches and athletes need to realize that rest and recovery is important to heat acclimatization.
"Heat can do a lot of things," she said. "It can make you delirious, you can get dehydrated, you can have a concussion and don't know it because you say it's heat, so having this policy where you have to have a break period between practices allows the body to heal so we can recognize [if this is] something more than just a hydration issue or whatever else. A recovery period is also mental.
You've been pounding for three hours, so you not only have to recover physically, but your brain has to recover, too."
The coordinators or supervisors of athletics for the five area counties and the city said many of their teams are only practicing for three hours and not bothering with the walkthrough because such a big break is required in between.
In Anne Arundel County, LeGrand said his coaches dealt with very few heat-related issues in recent years, because once teachers report to school, teams can't practice while teachers work. Now with everything limited to a seven-hour block, coaches who use all seven hours will have a practice or a walkthrough during the hottest part of the day.
"A lot of our soccer and cross country coaches would rather go from 8 to 9:30 in the morning and then come back in the evening from 7 to 8:30," LeGrand said, "but the model policy doesn't allow you to do that. As a whole, that policy is a very good one. There's just some things that could be tweaked."
Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and a member of the committee, said there is room to tweak the policy.
He said there are a couple ways to accommodate the lost practice time -- move the starting date for fall sports two or three days earlier or move the first game a week later. He said each has its pros and cons
"We're giving these things a lot of consideration and thought," Sparks said. "We want to talk to a lot of people. We want to talk to our coaches, supervisors, the medical people and find out what might be the best thing."
The legislation does not apply to the private school leagues, but officials of the boys Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and the girls Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland have recommended that their schools follow the model policy. Rick Diggs, executive director of the MIAA, said the policy will be mandatory in that association beginning next fall.