INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana High School Athletic Association released on Thursday a guidelines to what it will govern as bylaws for the 2020 fall athletic season. This does not overview individual communities or counties, but its broad guidelines for fall sports.
Per the IHSAA:
The Indiana High School Athletic Association, with support of its Board of Directors and feedback from its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, will continue to work in collaboration with Governor Holcomb’s office, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the Indiana Department of Education to provide guidance to its member schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Resource Center will continue to be updated with new information as conditions change during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IHSAA believes it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes to return to organized physical activity and build team relationships with their peers and coaches. Students who participate learn life lessons in an environment that cannot be duplicated. Academic achievement, the development of leadership and social skills as well as the mental health benefits are known to be greatly enhanced in students who participate in these programs compared to those who do not.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in thousands of our students missing out on these life-shaping educational experiences over the past several months. A study conducted by UW Health & the University of Wisconsin concluded that more than two-thirds of high school athletes report anxiety and depression since the onset of the pandemic. Another report by the group measured the impact of School Closures and Athletic Cancellations on the health of Indiana adolescents.
The IHSAA fully supports its member schools in determining what is in the best interests of the health and well-being of their student-athletes and staff. Each IHSAA member school’s athletic department will operate with the approval of its school administration in moving forward throughout the 2020-21 school year.It will be the decision of each local school district to determine if they can safely conduct athletic practices and contests. Due to the nature of the outbreak, there maybe inequities due to geography within the state of Indiana as some areas will have higher COVID-19 rates that may not warrant full athletic participation while another area has lower COVID-19 rates that allow full participation.
For workouts, practices and competitions to continue, social distancing and other preventive measures such as face covering/masking and frequent sanitizing of hands, implements, and equipment are strongly encouraged. This will likely remain in place until a cure, vaccine or very effective treatment is readily available, or so-called “herd immunity” is confidently reached. As the science about COVID-19 evolves, it will be important to remain vigilant and nimble to respond to new developments. Students and their families, along with school personnel, must recognize these risks and implement best practices to reasonably mitigate these risks.
Participation in school activities is voluntary and every individual will need to evaluate the risk versus the benefits of athletics participation. Those immune-compromised students and staff, or those who live with family members with elevated health concerns, should evaluate associated risks of participation and may choose not to participate. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and also may be produced when yelling, cheering, singing and spitting. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Risk mitigation strategies should be aimed at reducing the likelihood of a person being exposed to respiratory droplets coming from another person.
Every school is different, and every athletics activity is different. Certain mitigation strategies may be feasible in one school or for one activity, but not another. We are also providing sport-specific recommendations and/or considerations that our team has developed in conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) or a similar governing body.
Note that a rule modification is a modification to a playing rule from the governing body of the sport and is a requirement to adhere to and follow. A recommendation is a consideration to the sport and allows for optional guidelines. Recommendations are not required but are permitted. Again, this Resource Center will be updated as necessary.
Cancellation Fees: If a school must cancel a contest due to COVID-19, do they need to pay the contract cancellation fee to the offended school?
A.No, contests canceled due to COVID-19 will not be required to pay a cancellation fee.
Canceled Contests: If a school must cancel a contest due to COVID-19, does it count as a loss, or simply a no contest?
A.If a contest is canceled due to COVID-19, it should be recorded as “No Contest”.
Masks: During contests, do players not participating have to wear masks?
A.Yes, the governor’s mask order dictates this. Anyone who is not engaged in strenuous physical activity should be wearing a mask.
Neck Gaiters: Can student-athletes wear neck gaiters while participating?
A.Yes, athletes can wear neck gaiters and should slip them up over their nose when they are not participating in the contest and, if they choose to, down around the neck when they enter the contest. Anyone who is not engaged in strenuous physical activity should be wearing a mask.
Concessions: May schools sell concessions at contests?
A.Yes, but it is at the discretion of the host school. If a school chooses to, it is recommended that all items sold in the concession stand be pre-packaged prior to sale. Pre-packaged can be items purchased like a bag of chips, bottled soft drinks, candy bar etc.These types of items would be considered the safest and easiest to handle. However, pre-packaged can also be items packaged by concession staff, such as a popcorn, hamburgers, hot dogs etc.as long as they are safely handled prior to packaging.
Spectator Seating: Will spectators be allowed to attend sporting events?
A.Yes, but it will be at the discretion of the host school with guidance from local health officials and in accordance with the governor’s stage 4.5. If allowing spectators in a bleacher setting: a) Family units may sit together but using six feet of social distancing between another family unit. b) On a set of bleachers, it should be no more than 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people (even if the bleachers can fit more with social distancing). c) If a stadium has multiple individual sets of bleachers, each separate area can be seen as a separate unit (see item 2 above).
However, an important part is each segment must have separate designated entrances and separate designated restroom facilities in order not to exceed a total of 250 people. Schools might be able to accomplish this by having staggered arrival times if multiple entrances are not available. Bottom line is that they must do something to avoid people congregating (to get in or in line for restrooms). d) With large events, schools should work with and have approval of the local health department.
Practice Rules: Will the IHSAA waive its practice rules during the pandemic?
A. IHSAA by-laws 9-14 (Practice Attendance Required to Participate ina Contest) and50-1/101-1 (Pre-Participation Practice) will remain in effect.