State orginizations publish guidelines for a return to fall sports

Football must adjust to eight required sanitation timeouts per game

The Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released Coronavirus-related guidelines for a return to high school football, cross country, volleyball and 4A golf on their respective websites today.

The recommendations can be found, in full, below:

Here are a few highlights:

- A 2-min timeout is required every four minutes of game play for sanitization and hydration, that's two timeouts per quarter for a total of eight a game, if the state sticks with 12-minute periods.
- Masks are encouraged during gameplay but not required.
- Long-sleeves and long socks are encouraged but not required to cover exposed skin.
- The sideline area for football players will be extended from 10-yard line to 10-yard line.
- The coin toss will include 1 player from each team.
- No postgame handshakes
- Scrimmages between schools ARE allowed.
- No spitting is allowed
- Water is only to be drank, not used for rinsing or cooling off
- Game balls will be switched out on every fourth down
- Hand and equipment sanitizing is encouraged as often as possible

The IHSAA only offers several considerations in regards to cross country:
- They suggest staggering the mass start at each meet as well as widening the course path to at least six ft wide. - Face masks will be allowed during meets

As it looks right now, no sweeping changes have been made to the sport as of now.


- All players are required to sanitize their hands following warm-ups, timeouts and in between sets or anytime a player leaves the court.
- Pre and postgame handshakes are banned
- Each team must bring their own volleyballs for warm-ups
- Teams are not allowed to switch benches between sets
- - Athletes are allowed to wear face masks, gloves, long sleeves & pants but it's not required
- Fans are not allowed to sit in the first two rows of bleachers and are "strongly encouraged" to wear face coverings while also adhering to social distancing.




 Social Distancing
    •    Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible.  Recommendations include:
    ◦    Spacing between players while stretching and performing drills so that players remain 6 feet apart.
    ◦    Avoid close congregating of players while receiving coaching instruction.
    ◦    The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommends that workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students, with the same 5-10 students always working out together.  Coaches should keep a record of who is in each pod to facilitate contact-tracing if necessary.
    ◦    Schools should take steps to separate the different levels of their football programs into different areas so that potential contamination can be limited in case of a positive case. This includes use of locker rooms.
    ◦    The IHSAA will be expanding the team box for the 2020 season to each respective 10-yard lines, providing 30 additional yard for players and personnel to spread out. This adoption is for players only. Coaches are still mandated to be inside the 25-yard lines. Coaches may enter the expanded team box area for supervision purposes only.
    ◦    Only essential personnel are permitted on the field of play.
    ▪    The field of play is defined as the area within the boundary lines and the goal lines.
    ▪    Essential personnel are defined as players, coaches, athletic trainers, and officials.
    ▪    All others, i.e., ball attendants, managers, video people, media photographers, etc. are considered non-essential personnel and are to be on the sideline, maintaining social distance of 6 feet apart.
    ◦    Coaches and officials should follow 6 feet social distancing when interacting with each other.
    ◦    Depending on team size, schools should consider whether roster limits (including travel rosters) should be implemented to improve social distancing.
    ◦    For the mock coin toss, the referee, umpire and one designated representative from each team. Coin toss should take place in the center of the field with designated individuals maintaining social distancing of 6 feet. No handshakes prior to and following the coin toss. For the overtime procedure, same procedure as used at the start of the contest for the coin toss.
    ◦    Teams shall NOT exchange handshakes following the contest – teams can acknowledge opponent with other appropriate non-contact measures.
    •    For the 2020 football season, scrimmages against another school are still permitted. Intra-squad scrimmages are also permissible.
Practice/Game Protocols
    •    Sanitizing: Hand sanitizing should be used as much as possible. The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommends using hand sanitizer when going to and from the field. Players are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes.
    •    Mandatory Timeouts:  An officials’ timeout will be taken every 4 minutes of game clock time in order for teams to properly sanitize and hydrate during the contest. This timeout is to be two minutes in length.  In addition, the intermission between the 1st and 2nd quarter and the 3rd and 4th quarter should also be two minutes in length in order to allow for proper sanitizing and hydration.
    •    Masks: Masks are encouraged but not required to be worn by players, game officials, chain gangs, ball retrievers, statisticians, managers, athletic trainers and coaches. It is recommended that if worn, players and coaches wear a mask that is a solid color. There is no prohibition on the color of the mask.
    •    Shields: Plastic shields covering the entire face (unless clear and integrated into the face mask and attached to the helmet) shall not be allowed during the contest.
    •    Mouth Protector: It is recommended that players keep their tooth and mouth protector in their mouths at all times. Each time they touch their tooth and mouth protector, they should sanitize their hands.
    •    Gloves: Unless made of unaltered plain cloth, gloves must have a permanent, exact replica of the NOCSAE glove seal or the SFIA glove seal. This seal must be visible and appear legibly on the exterior wrist opening of the glove.  Non-athletic gloves, worn solely for the purpose of warmth, and made of unaltered plain cloth and which do not enhance the contact with the ball do not require a stamp indicating compliance.
    •    Skin Coverage: Players are encouraged to cover up as much of their bare skin as possible. Using long sleeved dry weave shirts and tights can cover bare skin.
    •    Spitting: Spitting is to be prohibited.
    •    Use of Water: Water is to be consumed only. Players should not rinse their mouth, rinsing their mouth piece, or pour water on their faces or necks.
    •    Game Balls: The ball should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the contest using sanitizing solutions recommended by the ball manufacturer. During games, it is recommended that each time there is a fourth down, a new football be brought into play. It is recommended that each team provide at least two reliable, knowledgeable ball attendants for each contest and that they maintain the appropriate social distancing guidelines throughout the contest.
    •    Facility Sanitizing: At the conclusion of each game, it is necessary to sanitize both the home and visiting team benches and any other areas that may have been used by either team. Spectator areas, locker rooms, training rooms, restrooms, concession stands and press box should also be cleaned and sanitized.
Game Officials
    •    Football game officials that have registered to work this fall but elect not to work as a result of COVID-19 need to contact Laura Brooker at prior to August 27 regarding refunds.
    •    Game officials are responsible for bringing their own beverages and own food items to the site.
    •    Officials are responsible for bringing their own hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
    •    If available, dressing facilities for game officials should be large enough for them to use social-distancing protocols and should be properly cleaned and sanitized prior to their arrival.
    •    Maintain social distancing of 6 feet while performing duties.
    •    Officials Conferences: The authorized conference for the game officials’ timeout should take place between the 9-yard marks and not at the sideline for social-distancing purposes.

General Considerations
    •    No hugging, shaking hands, or fist bumps.
    •    Cross country meets may consider using staggered, wave or interval starts. Note at the current time the state qualifying meet and state meet will be using the traditional mass start.   Consideration should be given to the format of the meet, including having different levels run on different nights.
    •    Possible Rule Modifications:
    ◦    8-1-3a: Consider widening the course to at least 6 feet at its narrowest point.
    •    Consider widening the starting grids including skipping boxes at the starting line.
    •    Finish:
    ◦    Consider using finish corrals and FAT timing for larger meets as easier to distance at finish.
    ◦    With no FAT timing system consider alternative means of finish place and time to address congestion at finish line. An example includes writing down the bib numbers of finishers rather than tearing bibs.
    ◦    Consider using image-based equipment at finish to assist with picking place to avoid congestion.
    •    Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and exercise equipment.
    •    Pre- and Post-Event Ceremony: Establish cross country specific social distancing meet protocols including the elimination of handshakes before and after the meet.
Considerations for Coaches:
    •    Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents.
    •    Consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
    •    Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed.
    •    Team Camp Considerations – Social distancing from other teams as much as possible is strongly recommended. Coaches should consider the number of individuals within the camp.  Also, the size of the tents including whether to include the sides of the tent should also be considered.
Considerations for Students:

    •    Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies.
    •    Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing. Individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home.
    •    Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices.
    •    Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
    •    Cloth face coverings are permitted.
    •    Bring your own water bottle.
    •    Start Protocols: Student-athletes should have individual bags and locations for sweats – no mass piling of team clothing.
    •    Finish Protocols: Student-athletes should remain upright and walk through the chute with the understanding that there will be times that a participant may need medical attention.
Considerations for Officials:

    •    Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash hands frequently.
    •    Don’t share equipment.
    •    Follow social distancing guidelines:
    ◦    Pre- and Post-Meet conferences
    ◦    Clerking at the start line
    ◦    Tabulations and posting of results
    •    Consider using electronic whistle
    •    Do not shake hands and follow pre- and post-event ceremony guidelines established by state associations.
    •    Officials personnel are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings at all times.
Considerations for Administration:
    •    Facility Sanitization: Consideration should be given to which facilities are going to need sanitization, how often will sanitization be needed, who will be doing the sanitizing
    •    Awards Ceremonies: Consideration for options that would allow social distancing for the athletes, coaches, and spectators – consider other alternatives such as not having awards ceremonies, strongly recommending the use of cloth face coverings for any individuals attending the awards ceremonies if there are alternative options
    •    Postseason: Potential options may be considered regarding the state qualifying meets and state meet depending upon the status of COVID-19
    •    Concession Stands: May be opened provided they have been inspected and licensed. Click here to view concession guidance.
    •    Limit the outside food brought in by teams/spectators.
    •    Admission may be taken using safe practices or a free-will donation container is an option as well.
    •    The Department of Education’s transportation guidelines should be followed when travelling as a team. Click here to view transportation guidance
    •    Consider establishing a team-based approach to a develop a written management protocol for any COVID-19 related issues, including exposure and testing outcomes.  Contact local county public health officials for their participation, involve school nurse and/or medical personnel, certified athletic trainers and/or counselors.



General Guidelines

Schools are asked to read a Public Address Announcement at the start of each match to encourage social distancing (arm test) and to remind spectators to do their part in keeping their student-athletes on the court.

People (players, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices.

The IGHSAU strongly encourages all participants and spectators to practice social distancing and to wear face coverings whenever possible.

Pre-Match Procedures

Attendees for the coin toss is limited to one coach from each team, one captain from each team, first referee and second referee.  All six individuals must maintain a social distance of 3 to 6 feet. Face coverings are strongly encouraged to be worn by all pre-match conference attendees.

Rosters are to be submitted directly to the officials’ table before the 10-minute mark. Roster submission at the pre-match conference is suspended indefinitely. 

Teams are required to bring their own volleyballs to use for warm-ups for away matches. (Volleyballs must be marked to help with identification purposes when traveling with volleyballs.)

Teams are not allowed to warm-up outside of the court near their opponents while their opponents have the court for the 6-minute portion of the 5-6-6 warm-up protocol, UNLESS there is another court area for them to utilize.  It is permissible for teams to share the court for the 5-minute ball handling portion of warm-up as teams will be socially distanced by the net. 

During Matches

Eliminate spectator seating in the first two rows if possible.

Avoid playing matches simultaneously on side-by-side courts if possible.

Pre- and postgame handshakes between teams are prohibited. Teams should acknowledge their opponents with a wave, bow, etc. after introductions and/or after the match. 

Teams are not to switch benches between sets. In the event there is a clear and distinct disadvantage, teams may switch sides, observing all social distancing protocols. Officials will determine if a disadvantage is present. 

Bench personnel should observe social distancing as much as possible. Coaches, players and other bench personnel are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while on the bench.

All players are allowed to stand near the bench area (not just those in the active rotation) to help with social distancing if needed.

All players must sanitize their hands before and after warm-ups, at all timeouts, between sets and anytime they leave the playing court. Coaches are strongly encouraged to sanitize their hands as often as possible as well. 

Host schools must have at least three volleyballs to use for the in-game ball rotation to allow for volleyballs to be sanitized while not in use. The host school will be responsible for sanitization of the in-game volleyballs in the rotation. Volleyballs should be removed from play and sanitized frequently and any time a volleyball is touched by a spectator.

Players and coaches should practice social distancing of 3 to 6 feet when addressing the second referee and during substitutions.  Players are encouraged to utilize the substitution zone closer to the attack line rather than nearer the net for social distancing purposes between players and the second referee.

Attendees for the deciding coin toss are limited to one coach and one captain from each team, first referee and second referee.  All individuals must maintain a social distance of 3 to 6 feet. Face coverings are strongly encouraged to be worn by all deciding set coin toss attendees.

Teams are not to switch benches before a deciding set. In the event there is a clear and distinct disadvantage, teams may switch sides, observing all social distancing protocols. Officials will determine if a disadvantage is present.


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