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Iowa high school leagues release COVID-19 guidelines for fall sports

The Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released their guidelines Wednesday afternoon for the start of the fall sports season. 

Iowa’s fall sports include football, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, boys’ golf and girls’ swimming and diving. The two governing organizations released sport-specific guidelines as well as a general protocol for all sports. 

In the general guidance release, the IHSAA and IGHSAU stated all schools, regardless of the Return to Learn plans, are eligible to participate in both leagues’ sports programs. The decision on whether or not to allow teams to play will rest solely with the local school districts. 

Should a school district elect not to participate in certain sports, students within that district will have two options if they still want to participate. 

According to a press release, those options include the school district opting into a cooperative sharing agreement with another district that is offering the sport. However, this may jeopardize the host school’s postseason eligibility if the combined enrollment moves the host school to the next enrollment class. 

The other option is for students in a district not offering the sport they are interested in to open enroll to another district. The students who open enroll would be immediately eligible to play in that sport, but would be ineligible for varsity competition in any sport their home district offers. 

Many of the sanitizing and social distancing guidelines remain in place from the baseball and softball seasons. Any equipment that is shared by student-athletes should be sanitized before and after games and practices. Student-athletes are also encouraged to frequently sanitize their hands before, during and after practices and competitions. 

Concession stands will still be closed as of the start of the season. 

Schools will also implement spectator protocols based on the recommendations and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control as well as the local health departments regarding the size of the gatherings and social distancing. 

Spectators should maintain six feet of social distancing, with families allowed to sit together but still social distancing from others. Frequent reminders should be made via public address. 

Schools may also require spectators to wear masks. 

Locker rooms and training rooms will also be available for use, so long as social distancing of six feet and frequent sanitation guidelines are met. 

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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