Fall sports guidelines announced

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds waves to the crowd at the Class 3A state softball championship game on Friday afternoon at the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge. Reynolds gave the initial green light that allowed high school softball and baseball to be played this summer, making Iowa the first state to bring sanctioned high school sports back during the coronavirus pandemic. The Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced guidelines for the upcoming season of fall sports, which will include high school football, volleyball, cross-country, girls swimming and Class 4A boys golf.

DES MOINES — Guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus have been announced for the upcoming Iowa high school fall sports season.

The Iowa High School Athletic Assocation and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union sent out both overall general guidelines for fall sports as well as guidelines for each individual sport that will be played. High school football, volleyball, cross-country, girls’ swimming and Class 4A boys golf are all scheduled to be held with practices for all fall activities beginning on Aug. 10.

The guidelines sent out by the IHSAA and IGHSAU are only recommendations for schools throughout the state and are not meant to supersede and guidelines, mandates, requirements, and/or orders put into place by the Iowa Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Education, all local school districts or any federal, local or county government entities and health departments.

For more information and other departmental links, please view the IHSAA’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

It is the responsibility of the home team to provide proper administrative supervision (not the coach) at contests to assure compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s office, the Department of Education, the Department of Public Health the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

All schools, regardless of district/school Return to Learn plans, will be eligible to participate in IHSAA and IGHSAU sports programs. The decision regarding whether or not to allow teams to participate rests solely with local school districts.

Schools deciding to not participate in a sport should send written notice from its superintendent or designated school official to IHSAA executive director Tom Keating and/or IGHSAU Executive Director Jean Berger by Aug. 17.

In terms of the eligibility for students in districts that do no offer one or more fall sports, two options exist. The district not offering the sport may develop a cooperative sharing agreement with a district that does offer the sport, which may jeopardize the host school’s postseason eligibility if the combined enrollment moves the host school to the next enrollment class, or students in a district not offering the sport may open enroll to another district and would be immediately eligible to participate in that sport. In such a situation, students who open enroll would be ineligible for varsity competition in all sports which their home district offers.

All students are considered academically eligible to begin fall sports in the 2020-21 school year. Regardless of the Return-to-Learn plan implemented, all students must be enrolled in at least four courses to be eligible. All other scholarship, open enrollment and general transfer rules apply.

As per the amendment issued by Governor Kim Reynolds on June 25, all physicals signed on or after July 1, 2019 are good through Dec. of 2020.

Schools should use the previous PPP form for the 2020-2021 school year. The revised PPE form has not been approved for distribution.

The Department of Education, Iowa Department of Health and Iowa Athletic Trainers Society will clarify how Return-to-Play (RTP) protocols relate to each of the three Return to Learn options schools may implement. The general guideline is that a day of school is a day of school, regardless of how instruction is delivered.

Guidelines will reflect the school transportation guidelines, which will come from the Iowa Department of Education.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is developing guidance for county health departments and schools regarding protocols when a student and/or student-athlete reports COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result.

Each school should identify a point of contact for athletes, coaches and other personnel to report to when he or she experiences COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result. This identified person will be responsible to report such situations to local public health.

Each school should develop a communication plan to notify relevant persons (players, coaches, spectators) when contact-tracing indicates the need to.

Schools should implement health screening for practices and games similar to methods used during baseball and softball seasons. Self-screening and reporting to the school representative (AD/Coach/Trainer, etc.) is permissible.

Any individual reporting symptoms and/or a temperature of 100.4F or higher should be isolated until they can safely transport home.

The overarching safety principal in all areas of athletic activities (meetings, practices, travel, instruction, drills, benches, spectators, locker rooms, training rooms, concessions, restrooms, etc.) is that individuals should maintain six feet of social distancing.

More general guidelines for fall sports, as well as the individual guidelines for each activity, can be found online at both the IHSAA and IGHSAU website. Check out next week’s Ottumwa Courier sports sections for more on those guidelines.