BOONE — The Iowa High School Athletic Association confirmed Monday that five baseball teams have suspended their seasons due to positive COVID-19 cases surrounding their programs.
According to IHSAA assistant director and co-administrator of baseball Jared Chizek, Dubuque Wahlert notified officials that it had a positive coronavirus case over the weekend and will shut down its season for two weeks. Aplington-Parkersburg, Iowa Falls-Alden, Le Mars Gehlen and Woodbine have also reported positive cases and have instituted 14-day quarantines.
“There might be one more,” Chizek said. “There are a couple others that are not suspended but they’re working with county health on next steps.
“Everybody, right now, is planning for a two-week suspension. No one has contacted our office and said we are officially pulling the plug on our season at this point.”
Only three programs opted not to field teams this season. Currently, the percentages of those impacted remain low compared to the programs fielding teams, according to IHSAA Executive Director Tom Keating.
Keating praised the Department of Public Health and county agencies for answering questions and making health decisions coaches and administrators aren’t in a position to make. The situation will be monitored and the IHSAA will defer to the DPH, if numbers increase.
“I think we have to continue to be mindful of the protocols and not relax there,” Keating said. “I think people have done a good job of that, but we can’t feel we’re seven games in and we are OK, by now.
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“That’s not the case. This thing is very real and we have to tread lightly and carefully. I appreciate the administrators and coaches, who are doing just that.”
The season is three weeks old, including one week with competition. Keating said things have gone well overall, so far.
“With the number of programs playing, the number of games that have been played, the number of practices we’ve had, I think we’re pleased that things are where they are,” Keating said. “We feel bad for the programs that have been impacted, but I’m not sure we can tie those directly back to their team interaction.”
Wahlert, a Mississippi Valley Conference program, opened the season last Monday against Western Dubuque. The Golden Eagles also played a non-conference game against Independence and a conference doubleheader against Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Western Dubuque Activities Director Tyler Lown said he was contacted by Wahlert AD Tom English. He immediately passed on the information to his staff. Coaches, players and their families will have to be vigilant, identifying any possible illnesses.
“We followed the Department of Health, saying we don’t have to quarantine, but we need to watch close for all signs and symptoms,” Lown said. “We’ll look out for that, We’re heightened with it and contacted coaches at all levels. We’ll keep after things.”
Chizek praised how things have been handled by administrators, taking the appropriate measures to circulate facts to all those involved.
“Credit to our athletic directors for working with their counties,” Chizek said. “Also, for working with schools they have played, the umpires, who worked their games, and the open line of communication they’re having just to keep everyone alert of the situation that may have happened with their program.”
Attempts to reach Prairie AD Rocky Bennett for comment were unsuccessful.
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Multiple coaches and administrators said before the season that positive cases were a matter of “when” more than “if.” Chizek said the IHSAA had to be prepared for it.
Each county follows its own protocols, which impacts how programs proceed. Wahlert’s three foes reside in three separate counties — Black Hawk, Dubuque and Linn.
“We’ve heard some players tested positive,” Chizek said. “This is the hard part with 99 counties, handling it differently in terms of whether a team is suspended because of a positive case or exposure to somebody with a positive case.”
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