Crackdown on fighting COVID-19

High school sports will still be played with tighter control

Most in the Fairfield student section are masked at a volleyball match this fall. (Doug Brenneman/Union)
Most in the Fairfield student section are masked at a volleyball match this fall. (Doug Brenneman/Union)

Gov. Kim Reynolds called or more disciplined public behavior in Tuesday’s televised speech in which she enacted a limited version of a statewide mask mandate. This was a new edict after the Nov. 1o proclamation.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Athletic Association has issued some clarifications in an address to athletic directors statewide.

A proclamation by the governor requires everyone 2 or older to wear masks when in public, indoor spaces within 6 feet of others who aren’t member of their households for 15 minutes.

Children of that age will not be required to wear a mask or have a ticket when attending high school sporting events, but all others will. Those others must have a ticket from an athlete playing in the event to attend.

While allowing high school, college and professional sports, she suspended all youth and adult sports and recreational activities. The participation of the pep band, cheerleaders, dance team performers or national anthem singers are not limited by the proclamation. They are not spectators. They would be required to wear masks if there’s more than 25 people in the gym.

Because Reynolds limited many indoor gatherings, schools will limit attendance at games or meets by issuing two tickets to each athlete participating. One must have that ticket to attend and can only attend the game the ticket is for. When schools have junior varsity and varsity games, a spectator must attend the game the ticket is for. If the junior varsity attendendee does not have an athlete in the varsity game, they must leave. And vice versa. Separate games are separate gatherings. Spectators would need to leave or wait to arrive regarding varsity and junior varsity games.

“We print out and give the kids their tickets in advance for them to distribute,” Washington athletic director Brent Van Weelden said. “We are hoping that the people who are able to attend the game will arrive when the game is scheduled to start.”

Most games begin at 4:45 p.m. for the freshmen team, 6:15 p.m. for the JV games and 7:45 for varsity.

“We would expect that the spectators will take our kids’ safety seriously and only attend when their athlete is playing,” Van Weelden said. “We will livestream everything in the main gym for those not in attendance.”

Mid-Prairie will use tickets it has on hand that are normally used for other things.

“If this becomes more ‘long term’ we will see if what we have works or if we need to look at some other option,” Mid-Prairie athletic director Tyler Hotz said.

Only athletes will be given tickets. Coaches, statisticians, managers, trainers, video operator, public address announcer, scoreboard operator, and any other support staff are not provided tickets.

As far as additional precautions for basketball, schools were pretty strict during the volleyball season.

“We will continue to use the same mitigation strategies we have been doing,” Mt. Pleasant athletic director Scot Lamm said. “Wear masks as much as possible, practice good social distancing, and sanitization.”

Even if the dance team performs at halftime, those parents will not be able to attend even if its only for halftime.

“Currently, the two ticket rule is only for players on the basketball and wrestling teams,” Van Weelden said. “I would hope the tickets would go to family first.”

On the road, varsity players can be in the gym during the junior varsity game and the junior varsity during the varsity.

Members of the media are not limited from attending games. They would be required to wear masks however and properly social distance.

Many schools are livestreaming their games and those addresses are available on the teams website. Sometimes it is Facebook Live, sometimes it is on a YouTube channel. Lifestream often occurs through the NFHS network and varsity broadcast games for Washington and MidPrairie are often broadcast on radio.

Bleachers will be blocked off behind benches and scorers table. There will be designated areas for spectators to sit. The first two rows of bleachers will be marked off throughout the gym. Communities will be designated on opposite sides of the gym.

If the school chooses to use remote instruction. it is required to temporary suspend in person extracurricular activities for the duration of the period requested. Fairfield has currently taken that step.

Concessions are still allowed to be made available. Admissions will be taken.