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Play Ball! Iowa set to be first state to allow student-athletes back onto the field

Play Ball! Iowa set to be first state to allow student-athletes back onto the field
Press photos by John Burbridge
Charles City’s Atticus Parrott makes contact during a game last season. Parrott will be a returning senior this season, which is due to start having games on June 15.

By John Burbridge
sports@charlescitypress.com

CHARLES CITY — As the only state in the union with summer high school sport seasons, Iowa is set to have the historical distinction of being the first to allow student-athletes to return to the field during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic saga.

Shortly after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced on Wednesday that school activities could resume on June 1, the Iowa High School Athletic Association Board of Control and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Board of Directors in conjunction voted to resume the summer baseball and softball seasons.

Guidelines set by the Iowa Department of Education must be followed by participating school members for organized practices to start at the said date.

Similar guidelines will be in place for the proposed start of competition for both sports on June 15.

It should be noted that the June 1 and June 15 re-starting dates are subject to change if state and/or national reopening plans go sideways in the near future, or “if circumstance dictates change” as stated by the IDE.

Though some professional sports have restarted as of late, they were generally sans of spectators. The guidelines set by the IDE allow for spectators but encourage fans not to congregate en mass in the bleachers and suggest they instead bring portable chairs to the events.

Concession stands will be prohibited.

Even without the pandemic, the start of the baseball and softball seasons was due to be a cause for celebration for the Charles City Comets. After a long residence at the increasingly flood-plagued Sportsmen’s Park, this summer is set to be the inaugural one for the new Charles City Sports Complex adjacent to the high school.

The IDE guidelines in accordance to the tentative restart dates are as follows:

June 1
(Practices May Begin)

* Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in practice if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
* No dugouts may be used. Players’ items should be lined up against the fence at least six feet apart.
* Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players after practice.
* Players should use their own gloves, helmets, and bats as much as possible.
* Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible. This means additional spacing between players while playing catch, changing drills so that players remain spaced out, and no congregating of players while waiting to bat.
* Players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after practice. No shared drinking fountains, portable hydration stations, or coolers may be used.
* Coaches must sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice.
* Players and coaches should check their temperatures before attending practices.
* Anyone with symptoms of illness is not allowed to practice.
* Coaches should be knowledgeable of their students with pre-existing health conditions and work with school nurses or other health officials to take additional precautions as needed.
* Players should be encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer.
* Coaches must ban the spitting of sunflower seed shells.
* Coaches are responsible for tracking absences for the purpose of noting potential COVID-19 cases.
* Contact public health if a positive case of COVID-19 is reported.
June 15
(Games May Begin)

* Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in games if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
* Use of dugouts is permitted during games only.
* Players should use their own gloves, helmets, and bats as much as possible.
* Players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after games. No shared drinking fountains, water stations, or coolers may be used.
* Coaches must sanitize shared equipment before and after each game.
* Players and coaches should check their temperatures before attending practices or games.
* Anyone with symptoms of illness is not allowed to participate.
* Schools must limit the use of bleachers for fans. Encourage fans to bring their own chairs or stand. Fans should practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines.
* Schools must also implement any other reasonable measures under the circumstances of each school to ensure social distancing of staff, students, and community members, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the IDPH.
* Fans must not attend if they have symptoms of illness.
* No concessions stands are permitted.
* Contact public health if a positive case of COVID-19 is reported.

Other organized school activities will remain suspended until at least July 1.

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