Many school districts are headed back to the classroom this week, with students also headed outside to practice sports as the summer heat still poses a serious risk.

Jon Nelson of GPB Sports tells us how Georgia high school coaches and administrators are working to keep students safe.

Jon Nelson: With high school football teams starting practice for the 2023 season next week in earnest, one of the most obvious variables coaches have to prepare for is the heat. Around the state, outdoor treatments vary from start times in the early morning to early evening. But the key, according to Georgia Military College Preparatory School head coach Bobby Rhoades in a city like Milledgeville, is knowing your student athletes.

Bobby Rhoades: That's something we take very seriously. We stay on top of it. That's one of the main things I monitor throughout the course of practice is looking for signs of heat-related illnesses so we can act on it really quickly. 

Jon Nelson: [Parts of Georgia differ in temperature.] Let's go west a little bit and check in with our friends at Manchester High School in Meriwether County. Head football coach Stephen Holmes has decided that practice will happen — after school and then some.

Stephen Holmes: We bring our kids in late, as late in the afternoon as possible to meet and watch film with them — especially before school starts — so we're getting a lot of the mental prep work done. And we're getting on the field about 6:30 or later in the evening. The ideal way is to do it early in the morning but the challenge we've got is geography. We have kids that live about 20 minutes in every direction from the school. To beat the heat as late in the day as possible, we've got a great plan and we've got a great space to practice inside if there are thunderstorms and that's the best way to handle it. We do a really good job pre-hydrating our kids ... we're being proactive about it versus being reactive about it. Our players do a great job, our families do a great job with an administration that's great. 

Jon Nelson: And as we mentioned the mountains, time to take a trip to Dahlonega [in the North Georgia mountains] and catch up with Heath Webb, the head coach at Lumpkin County [High School], where [the weather] was the 70s. Then it was the 90s. Then you add turf and now you're practicing. It's a bit of a shock to the system that they've all had to adjust to at Lumpkin County. 

Heath Webb: It's about building a proper practice schedule that will kind of ebb and flow. There are going to be intense moments followed by back-off moments where we're teaching to allow for recovery and building in strategic breaks throughout the course of the practice, followed by ice baths at the end of the day just to get the body cooled back down.

Jon Nelson: Several school systems around the state have gone to the lengths of building indoor training facilities. One of those is at Lowndes High in Valdosta. Athletic director Danny Redshaw says it was built with more than just football in mind. 

Danny Redshaw: Now, you know, football does use it and there is a football field there, but it is school-wide as far as the availability of that thing to use. We are very fortunate to have it.

Jon Nelson: The director for [Lowndes'] 400-plus-member Georgia Bridgeman Marching Band, John Bowman, is thankful his team has a base of operations to train as well.

John Bowman: We're in camp right now. Since last week, we were able to go [into the facility] there at 1:00 p.m. I mean, we're normally inside during that time of the day, you know, getting stuff done. But we were able to go in there and work out some problems and just to be able to still get rehearsals in with them when the weather sets in.

Jon Nelson: Let the games begin, as all schools around the state try to hit the right notes in 2023.