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IHSAA and IGHSAU release COVID-19 guidelines for fall sports

IHSAA and IGHSAU release COVID-19 guidelines for fall sports

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Don’t spit, cover up, social distance, and sanitize constantly.

Those are the main messages that state officials want athletes to adhere to this fall.

The IHSAA and IGHSAU released their fall sports COVID-19 guidelines, and there will be some noticeable changes on the fields and courts of Iowa this fall. To start with, there will be a lot more sanitizing.


In football, the main focuses are on social distancing and sanitizing. The IHSAA broke down their guidelines into three sections, titled “Social Distancing,” “Practice/Game Protocols,” and “Game Officials.”

Social Distancing

The main takeaway is that players, coaches and officials should maintain six feet of separation whenever possible. This season, the team box will be extended all the way to the 10-yard lines, which provides football players with an extra 30 yards to space themselves out.

For the pre-game coin toss, only the referee, umpire and one member from each team will participate. Post-game handshakes will not be allowed.

Team workouts will also be done in “pods” of 5-10 players, with coaches keeping a record of which players are working out together for contact-tracing purposes.

Game Officials

Game officials must bring their own food and water, as well as hand sanitizer and wipes, to games this fall.

Officials conferences will also take place between the nine-yard markers instead of on the sideline this season, for social-distancing reasons.

Game Protocols

Officials will call a two-minute timeout after every four minutes of game clock time in order to sanitize and hydrate. The intermission between quarters will also be two minutes this season.

All participants are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks. Players are also asked to keep their mouth protector in their mouths at all times, and must sanitize their hands every time they remove it. Players are asked to sanitize upon entering and leaving the field of play.

Players should cover up as much of their bare skin as possible by wearing long sleeves or tights.

Spitting is not allowed. Water should also only be used to drink, and not for rinsing or poured on players’ heads.

Game balls should be sanitized throughout the game, and it is recommended that a new ball be introduced on every fourth down.


Spectators are asked to social distance to six feet while in the stands and to wear face masks if possible.


Rosters must be submitted to the scorers table 10 minutes before the game.

Teams must bring their own balls for warm-ups during away matches.


Teams should eliminate seating in the first two rows of the bleachers.

No pre-game or post-game handshakes are allowed.

Players are required to sanitize their hands before and after each set, and during each stoppage in play. Coaches and players are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while in the bench area.

Teams are also not allowed to switch benches between sets, unless one side has a clear and distinct advantage.

Attendees for the coin toss are limited to one coach, and one player from each team, along with the two referees.

Home schools should have at least three volleyballs ready for in-use rotation, in order to allow for sanitization.

Cross Country

In cross country, pre-match and post-match hugs or handshakes are not allowed.

Each student-athlete is asked to bring their own water bottle and towel, and should wash their own workout equipment and towels after each workouts immediately after returning home.

Students are permitted to wear face coverings.

Coaches are asked to conduct workouts in “pods” and keep track of who participates in each workout for contract tracing purposes.

Schools and officials are also asked to modify the course to be at least six feet wide at its narrowest points, and possibly widen the starting boxes.

Cross Country meets can also use staggered and interval starts instead of the traditional mass start.

Swim and Dive

Teams are asked to limit the amount of swimmers gathered in warm-up areas.

Teams will be kept on opposite sides of the pool, and will swim in designated lanes to provide social distancing.

Swimmers should swim to the opposite end of the starting blocks to exit the pool upon completion of the race, to limit contact with timers.

Swimmers should bring their own hand sanitizer and water bottle.


Teams are asked to use the putting green and range area for warm-ups only.

Teams should bring their own tees to events, and avoid community tee bins.

Players should provide their own water.

Hitting bays should be set up with 10 feet of space between players.

Players, coaches and fans should follow all social distancing guidelines.

Teams are asked to schedule meets to allow for social distancing, which means there may be more duals and triangulars as opposed to multi-team tournaments.

Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz.



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