With high school baseball and softball games around the corner, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) and the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) have been feverishly releasing a myriad of rules, recommendations and regulations for schools preparing to field teams starting June 15.
The River Valley Conference, in which Durant and Wilton each participate, has also released a flyer (pictured) with several protocols.
Prior to the athletic unions and conferences releasing extensive rules and regulations, most of which presented in question-and-answer form, the Iowa Department of Education released protocol surrounding practices from June 1-15, and for games beginning June 15. Some of the highlights are below:
June 1 practice
* Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in practice if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
* No dugouts may be used. Players’ items should be lined up against the fence at least six feet apart.
* Players should use their own gloves, helmets, and bats as much as possible.
* Players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after practice. No shared drinking fountains, portable hydration stations, or coolers may be used.
* Coaches must sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice.
* Players and coaches should check their temperatures before attending practices.
* Players should be encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer.
* Coaches must ban the spitting of sunflower seed shells.
* Contact public health if a positive case of COVID-19 is reported.
June 15 (games)
* Use of dugouts is permitted during games only.
* Players and coaches should check their temperatures before attending practices or games.
* Anyone with symptoms of illness is not allowed to participate.
* Schools must limit the use of bleachers for fans. Encourage fans to bring their own chairs or stand. Fans should practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines.
* Fans must not attend if they have symptoms of illness.
* No concession stands are permitted.
* Contact public health if a positive case of COVID-19 is reported.
The Iowa Department of Education recently released guidelines on traveling to and from games for high school teams. Below are some of the COVID-19 related rules:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding use of buses includes limiting seating to one child per seat, in every other seat, and alternating the rows. Strict adherence to these recommendations, for a 77-passenger bus, would allow for approximately 13 students to be transported. Due to various constraints, it may not be feasible for districts to meet these recommendations. For these situations, districts should implement practices to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease, such as:
* Encouraging use of face coverings when use of alternate rows for seating is not possible.
* Allowing siblings from the same household to sit together in the same seat.
* Recommending passengers sit in the same seat going to and returning from the trip.
* Allowing for alternate transportation arrangements, such as riding with a parent.
* If a case is identified, spending more than 15 minutes within six feet would be considered close contact. Those persons involved would need to quarantine.
* During trips, increase circulation of outdoor air into the vehicle to the extent possible.
* Do not allow open food or drink containers on the bus or other school vehicle.
* Encourage hand washing or use of hand sanitizer prior to boarding.
What follows are questions and answers provided by both the IGHSAU and IHSAA:
What is the protocol if a player has a positive test to COVID-19?
The local school district will need to contact the county’s department of public health, which will provide guidelines regarding the next steps.
What is the protocol for providing information to opponents played if a positive test for COVID-19 is confirmed?
The county and/or state department of public health will provide guidance to the school regarding communication to opposing schools.
Should each athlete have their temperature taken before each practice/game?
Per guidance from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health, players and coaches should have their temperature checked at home before attending practices or games. If a student-athlete has a temperature of 100.4 or above, they should not attend practices or games.
Who will be allowed in the dugout during contests?
Essential personnel only are permitted on the field of play. These are defined as players, coaches, trainers and umpires. All others, i.e., ball/bat boys, managers, statisticians, pitch count designees, media, photographers, etc., are considered non-essential personnel and are not to be in the dugout or extended dugout area. This is in effect for regular season and post season.
Are spectators permitted to attend games?
Per guidelines from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health, schools must limit the use of bleachers for fans. Schools should encourage fans to bring their own chairs or stand. Fans should practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines.
Should schools permit concession stands to be opened?
Per guidelines from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health, no concession stands are permitted.
How is a school district to determine the maximum capacity at its baseball/softball facility?
As long as social distancing guidelines are being followed, the local school district will determine the maximum capacity of the facility.
Should water cups be available, or each player have his/her own water bottle?
Per guidelines from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health, players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after games. No shared drinking fountains, water stations, or coolers may be used.
Will there be any adaptations to the pitch count rule in baseball?
No, the pitch count rule will be the same as what was published in the 2020 IHSAA Baseball Manual.
What is the postseason schedule?
Softball: Regionals begins on July 13; state July 27 - July 31. Baseball: Postseason begins on July 9; state July 24 - Aug. 1.
What happens if a school doesn’t want to play another school on their respective schedule as a result of a positive COVID-19 test?
If the Department of Public Health advises either school that the game is not to be played, it is considered a “No Contest.” If they choose on their own to not play the contest, the game will be considered a forfeit.
Which levels are able to participate in softball and baseball this summer?
Middle school softball and baseball are currently not allowed. Local and conference will make decisions on which levels at the high school will participate this summer. All current eligibility policies for 8th graders playing high school baseball continue to be in place.