OTTUMWA — Just over two months ago, the coronavirus pandemic put all school activities on pause, eventually leading to the cancellation of all Iowa prep spring sports.
On Wednesday, state officials made the decision to push play on high school baseball and softball seasons this summer.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that summer athletic seasons may be conducted for high school baseball and softball following a two-month activities suspension due to COVID-19.
The announcement approved the reopening of school facilities and the start of practices for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Association sanctioned summer sports starting on Monday, June 1. Per the Iowa Department of Education, first contests may occur as early as Monday, June 15 and fans will be permitted at games.
The IGHSAU Board of Directors and the IHSAA Board of Control met after the announcement and both groups voted to approve resuming the 2020 summer seasons under Iowa Department of Education guidelines.
Member schools are to follow reopening guidance entitled “Summer Sports” and “Use of School Facilities” as supplied by the Iowa Department of Education, with recommendations based on conversations with the IGHSAU, IHSAA, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the governor’s office. Dr. Ann Lebo, executive director of the Iowa Department of Education and member of the IHSAA Board of Control, is expected to join Gov. Reynolds at the daily briefing on Thursday.
“The IHSAA thanks Dr. Lebo, Governor Reynolds, Dr. Pedati, the IDPH and all who have worked diligently to develop these guidelines to help us conduct a baseball season for the young people in Iowa,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said.
“We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe. This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
Spring sports seasons never began and were ultimately canceled on April 17 following the cancellation of in-person K-12 schooling for Iowa’s 2019-20 academic year.
The original first practice dates were May 4 for softball and May 18 for baseball.
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.
“We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
The IGHSAU and IHSAA plan to issue further sport-specific guidance and FAQ lists early next week.
Both organizations currently plan to conduct their state tournaments at their previously announced venues, with IGHSAU softball at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge and IHSAA baseball at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, coach-athlete contact for all in-person, out-of-season sports is suspended until July 1.