CORONAVIRUS

IHSAA, IGHSAU mandate 4-week suspension of Iowa high school sports

Monday's decision follows governor's recommendation of 4-week school closures due to COVID-19

Wells Fargo Arena is mostly empty for the final day of the boys' state basketball tournament last Friday. On Monday, the
Wells Fargo Arena is mostly empty for the final day of the boys’ state basketball tournament last Friday. On Monday, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union suspended all spring activities for four weeks. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Four weeks. That’s the length of time, at the very least, of no high school sports in Iowa.

Following Sunday’s announcement by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds — in which she recommended that Iowa schools close for four weeks — the state’s governing bodies for high-school sports jointly prohibited all spring activities for the same four-week period.

This closure date could mean a return of high school activities as early as April 13.

Monday’s news calls for “no in-person contact between coaches/administrators and student-athletes for the duration of the period,” according to a release sent jointly by the state’s high school Unified Activities partners — the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa High School Speech Association.

“We just felt that we have to mirror what the schools are doing,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “We don’t want to put schools in a position in which they have to make their decisions individually.”

Gov. Reynolds announced the recommended closure in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health, in response to community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa.

“What this means is that we don’t have enough information to know what we’re going to do beyond the next four weeks,” said Jean Berger, IGHSAU executive director.

“We don’t sense any panic, and doomsday. We want to do what’s best, and today, that means four weeks off.”

Keating said, “There’s just so much coming at everybody right now. We don’t want to overreact, but we don’t want to assume that everything is normal. Because it’s not.”

In Sunday’s release, Gov. Reynolds said, “Based on new information today from the Iowa Department of Public Health, now is the time to move to the next level of response. I am now recommending that all Iowa schools close for a period of four weeks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The first practice date was supposed to be Monday for boys’ and girls’ golf and tennis and boys’ soccer, March 23 for girls’ soccer.

Baseball was to begin limited practice time April 1.

Now, the first practice date for all of those sports will be April 13, at the earliest.

The first practice date remains May 4 for baseball and softball.

The 2019-20 winter sports seasons concluded Friday with the boys’ state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. The end of that event was held with attendance restrictions in place.

“(Keating) and I feel very fortunate that we got our winter sports in,” Berger said.

As of now, all spring state championships are on as scheduled.

“There are too many contingencies to make any decisions,” Berger said. “If you make a statement, a day later, everything might change.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.