Fall 2020: Return to Competition

Updated: July 29, 2020

This document should be considered as providing recommendations from the IHSAA for member schools and may be updated before and during the fall 2020 season.


Social Distancing
  • Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible.  Recommendations include:
    • Spacing between players while stretching and performing drills so that players remain 6 feet apart.
    • Avoid close congregating of players while receiving coaching instruction.
    • The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommends that workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students, with the same 5-10 students always working out together.  Coaches should keep a record of who is in each pod to facilitate contact-tracing if necessary.
    • Schools should take steps to separate the different levels of their football programs into different areas so that potential contamination can be limited in case of a positive case. This includes use of locker rooms.
    • The IHSAA will be expanding the team box for the 2020 season to each respective 10-yard lines, providing 30 additional yard for players and personnel to spread out. This adoption is for players only. Coaches are still mandated to be inside the 25-yard lines. Coaches may enter the expanded team box area for supervision purposes only.
    • Only essential personnel are permitted on the field of play.
      • The field of play is defined as the area within the boundary lines and the goal lines.
      • Essential personnel are defined as players, coaches, athletic trainers, and officials.
      • All others, i.e., ball attendants, managers, video people, media photographers, etc. are considered non-essential personnel and are to be on the sideline, maintaining social distance of 6 feet apart.
    • Coaches and officials should follow 6 feet social distancing when interacting with each other.
    • Depending on team size, schools should consider whether roster limits (including travel rosters) should be implemented to improve social distancing.
    • For the mock coin toss, the referee, umpire and one designated representative from each team. Coin toss should take place in the center of the field with designated individuals maintaining social distancing of 6 feet. No handshakes prior to and following the coin toss. For the overtime procedure, same procedure as used at the start of the contest for the coin toss.
    • Teams shall NOT exchange handshakes following the contest – teams can acknowledge opponent with other appropriate non-contact measures.


  • For the 2020 football season, scrimmages against another school are still permitted. Intra-squad scrimmages are also permissible.


Practice/Game Protocols
  • Sanitizing: Hand sanitizing should be used as much as possible. The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommends using hand sanitizer when going to and from the field. Players are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes.
  • Mandatory Timeouts:  An officials’ timeout will be taken every 4 minutes of game clock time in order for teams to properly sanitize and hydrate during the contest. This timeout is to be two minutes in length.  In addition, the intermission between the 1st and 2nd quarter and the 3rd and 4th quarter should also be two minutes in length in order to allow for proper sanitizing and hydration.
  • Masks: Masks are encouraged but not required to be worn by players, game officials, chain gangs, ball retrievers, statisticians, managers, athletic trainers and coaches. It is recommended that if worn, players and coaches wear a mask that is a solid color. There is no prohibition on the color of the mask.
  • Shields: Plastic shields covering the entire face (unless clear and integrated into the face mask and attached to the helmet) shall not be allowed during the contest.
  • Mouth Protector: It is recommended that players keep their tooth and mouth protector in their mouths at all times. Each time they touch their tooth and mouth protector, they should sanitize their hands.
  • Gloves: Unless made of unaltered plain cloth, gloves must have a permanent, exact replica of the NOCSAE glove seal or the SFIA glove seal. This seal must be visible and appear legibly on the exterior wrist opening of the glove.  Non-athletic gloves, worn solely for the purpose of warmth, and made of unaltered plain cloth and which do not enhance the contact with the ball do not require a stamp indicating compliance.
  • Skin Coverage: Players are encouraged to cover up as much of their bare skin as possible. Using long sleeved dry weave shirts and tights can cover bare skin.
  • Spitting: Spitting is to be prohibited.
  • Use of Water: Water is to be consumed only. Players should not rinse their mouth, rinsing their mouth piece, or pour water on their faces or necks.
  • Game Balls: The ball should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the contest using sanitizing solutions recommended by the ball manufacturer. During games, it is recommended that each time there is a fourth down, a new football be brought into play. It is recommended that each team provide at least two reliable, knowledgeable ball attendants for each contest and that they maintain the appropriate social distancing guidelines throughout the contest.
  • Facility Sanitizing: At the conclusion of each game, it is necessary to sanitize both the home and visiting team benches and any other areas that may have been used by either team. Spectator areas, locker rooms, training rooms, restrooms, concession stands and press box should also be cleaned and sanitized.


Game Officials
  • Football game officials that have registered to work this fall but elect not to work as a result of COVID-19 need to contact Laura Brooker at [email protected] prior to August 27 regarding refunds.
  • Game officials are responsible for bringing their own beverages and own food items to the site.
  • Officials are responsible for bringing their own hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
  • If available, dressing facilities for game officials should be large enough for them to use social-distancing protocols and should be properly cleaned and sanitized prior to their arrival.
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet while performing duties.
  • Officials Conferences: The authorized conference for the game officials’ timeout should take place between the 9-yard marks and not at the sideline for social-distancing purposes.


For COVID-19 related information on all IHSAA fall activities, please visit:

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