WINTER 2020-21

Updated: November 19, 2020

Publish Date: October 20, 2020


Information and guidance relating to COVID-19 for member schools and participants of IHSAA activities in the winter 2020-21 seasons.

Winter Sport-Specific Guidance

This document should be considered as providing recommendations from IHSAA & IGHSAU for their member schools, and should not supersede guidelines, mandates, requirements, and/or orders put into place by the:

  • Iowa Governor’s Office
  • Iowa Department of Public Health
  • Iowa Department of Education
  • Federal, local or county government entities
  • Federal, local or county health departments
  • Local School Districts


For more information and other departmental links, please view the IHSAA’s COVID-19 Resource Center.


November 19 Update

Here is the latest guidance the IHSAA and IGHSAU have received after Governor Kim Reynolds issued a new proclamation yesterday. This guidance is issued directly from the Governor’s office. Any information published contrary to this is incorrect. It coincides with guidance published below from Nov. 17.



Q1. Can junior high sports now practice?

A1. Junior high sports activities would need to comply with all the requirements of section 1, paragraph C of the Governor’s Proclamation issued on November 18.

If all participants (athletes, coaches, or others) in the gathering can maintain six feet of physical distance at all time, the activities could resume. If closer contact is required or reasonably unavoidable, like in a wrestling meet or basketball game, that activity may not take place. So if the practice can be done maintaining six feet of distance at all times, it could resume. If there are any spectators at the practice, they would be limited to two per athlete. And all non-athletes are required to wear masks. There is no capacity limit.

Q2. If all wear masks, are junior high athletes permitted to scrimmage?

A2. No. Only activities where all can maintain six feet of social distancing are permitted.

Q3. Does the proclamation include school organized/sponsored junior high activities such as Show Choir? Or are those still prohibited?

A3. Junior high non-athletic extracurricular activities are not prohibited by the proclamation.

Q4. May youth sports teams use school facilities to practice?

A4. Yes, if the team is following all requirements of section 1, paragraph C, including social distancing, spectator limitations, and mask requirement for non-athletes.

Q5. Has there been any change in the guidance on tickets for cheerleaders?

A5. There has been no change to the governing proclamation language. For a basketball game, only the basketball athletes can have two spectators. Cheerleaders at a cheerleading competition could have spectators. Similarly, the band cannot have spectators at a basketball game, while it would be entitled to two spectators for a band concert. Any contrary guidance was an error.


November 17 Update

The clarifications are following the Nov. 10 and Nov. 16 proclamations from Gov. Kim Reynolds and guidance from the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health. As stated above, any subsequent proclamations or clarifications supersede past IHSAA announcements in regards to COVID-19 and member school events, gatherings, and guidance.



Per the Nov. 16 proclamation addressing Sporting and recreational gatherings (Section 6, Part C) High School-sponsored sporting and extracurricular events (Section 6, Part D):

  • High school activities (practices, competition) are permitted while following state gatherings and Department of Education guidelines.
  • Junior high school activities (practices, competition) are prohibited through December 10, 2020.
  • No more than two spectators for each student-athlete, performer, or competitor participating in the gathering.
    • Spectators may only be present during the time that student-athlete or their team is participating in an event.
    • Spouses and families of coaches are not currently included as qualifying for two spectators per athletes.
    • Supervising administrators may attend, but no additional spectators may accompany them.
  • Gathering organizers and spectators must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group of spectators.
  • All spectators over the age of two must wear a mask or other face covering for all gatherings.
  • These guidelines apply to indoor and outdoor events.

Q1: Does the proclamation permit the following to perform at the event: pep bands, cheerleaders, dance teams, or national anthem singers? 

A1: The proclamation does not currently limit the attendance or participation of other supporting participants in the sporting event. They are not spectators. They would not be required to wear masks, however per total gathering limitations would be required to properly social distance from others in attendance. They do not get two additional spectators as they are not the sporting event’s primary participants.

Q1a: Do those pep bands, cheerleaders, dance teams get two spectators each if they are considered performers at the sporting event? (Updated Nov. 18)

A1a: No, as sporting event spectators apply only to those playing the sport. If performers (bands, cheer, dance) have their own event, then each gets two spectator tickets to that performance.

Q2: How are “multiple games” defined? Must spectators for the first game leave after that game or may they remain for the second game? 

A2: Two spectators are permitted for each athletic participant in an event. Separate games are separate gatherings. Spectators need to leave or wait to arrive, as applicable, unless they are also one of the two spectators for an athletic participant. If a spectator has a student-athlete competing in a first event and another competing in a later event, the spectator may remain at the facility once they are there.

Q3: Can participants from the first event remain and watch the second event (boys and girls doubleheader, or junior varsity and varsity doubleheader)? 

A3: Yes, participants may watch the preceding or following event in which they are already present for.

Q4: If the proclamation permits the following to be part of an event, does it permit two spectators for any or all of the following: coaches, managers, trainers, statisticians, video operators, announcers, etc.? 

A4: The proclamation does not currently limit the attendance or participation of other supporting participants in the event. They are not spectators. They would be required to wear masks per total gathering limitations and would be required to properly social distance from others in attendance. They do not get two additional spectators as they are not the sporting event’s participants.

Q5: Are media members permitted to attend events? Should they be limited to a certain number? 

A5: The proclamation does not currently limit members of the media from attending the event. They would be required to wear masks per total gathering limitations and would be required to properly social distance from others in attendance.

Q6: What kind of gatherings are my high school athletic teams allowed to have? 

A6: Sporting event-related activities for high school sports are permitted, which would include competitions, practices, workouts, and open gyms. Social, community, business, or leisure gatherings (team banquets, meals, awards, ceremonies, etc.) are restricted to no more than 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Q7: With junior high activities prohibited, can weight training or workouts continue? 

A7: Junior high weight training and workouts would be considered gatherings and are prohibited.



October 20 Post 

Information below may be outdated or superseded by more recent proclamations and guidance. Please see above. 

  • Schools deciding to not participate in a sport should send written notice from its superintendent or designated school official to IHSAA executive director Tom Keating by November 16.


Eligibility for Students in Districts That Do Not Offer One or More Winter Sports

Two options exist:

  • The District not offering the sport may develop a cooperative sharing agreement with a district that does offer the sport. This may jeopardize the host school’s post-season eligibility if the combined enrollment moves the host school to the next enrollment class.  As per 36.15(4)(b)
  • Students in a district not offering the sport may open enroll to another district and would be immediately eligible to participate in that sport. In such a situation, students who open enroll would be ineligible for varsity competition in all sports which their home district offers.  As per 36.15(4)(a)


Academic Eligibility

All students were eligible this fall. First trimester and first semester grades will be determined for eligibility beyond the initial fall. All students must be enrolled in at least and equivalent of four courses to be eligible.


Pre-Participation Physicals

As per the amendment issued by Governor Reynolds on June 25, all physicals signed on or after July 1, 2019 are good through December of 2020.

Schools should use the previous PPE form for the 2020-2021 school year. The revised PPE form has not been approved for distribution.



Guidelines will reflect school transportation guidelines which will come from the Department of Education.


Possible/Positive COVID-19 Cases
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health has worked with county health departments and schools regarding protocols when a student and/or student-athlete reports COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result.
  • Each school should identify a point of contact for athletes, coaches, and other personnel to report to when he/she experiences COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result. This identified person will be responsible to report such situations to local public health.
  • Each school should develop a communication plan to notify relevant persons (players, coaches, spectators) when contact-tracing indicates the need to.


Health Screening
  • Schools should implement health screening for practices and games similar to methods used during baseball/ softball and the fall seasons. Self-screening and reporting to the school representative (AD/Coach/Trainer, etc.) is permissible.
  • Any individual reporting symptoms and/or a temperature of 100.4F or higher should be isolated until they can safely transport home.


Social Distancing

The overarching safety principal in all areas of athletic activities (meetings, practices, travel, instruction, drills, benches, spectators, locker rooms, training rooms, concessions, restrooms, etc.) is that individuals should maintain 6 feet of social distancing.


Hand Sanitizing

Student-athletes should be encouraged to frequently sanitize their hands before, during and after practice and competition.  Non-touch hand sanitizers may be used.  Student-athletes should have their own personal hand sanitizer.

Individuals should especially sanitize before touching “common” equipment or other items.


Equipment Sanitizing

Any equipment that is shared by student-athletes should be sanitized before and after practice as well as before and after competition.



Individuals should never share towels.  Each individual should bring or be issued his/her own clean towel at the beginning of practice or competition. Towels should be laundered after each practice and game.


Locker Rooms
  • Locker rooms may be used and should be sanitized every day and after use by each and every group. Schools should coordinate with their maintenance departments regarding sanitizing.
  • All school-issued and personal clothing, equipment and other items should be taken home following practices and/or contests. Locker rooms should not be used as a storage area for clothing and/or equipment.
  • Players, coaches and others using locker rooms should maintain 6 feet of social distancing. This may require a rotating schedule for use of locker rooms to avoid congestion.  A record of individuals in each rotation should be kept to facilitate contact-tracing if necessary.
  • Players, coaches and others using locker rooms are strongly encouraged to wear masks while in the locker room.
  • Visitor locker room should be identified and should be sanitized prior to arrival of team and after departure of team.


  • Each individual student-athlete should have their own water container.
  • If a hydration station (e.g. cooler) is provided, individuals must sanitize their hands prior to using the hydration station. An alternative practice is to assign one person to fill water bottles and that person should wear a mask and protective gloves.
  • Host schools may provide a water source for visitors but visitors should bring their own hydration station (cooler).


  • Schools should implement spectator protocols by following CDC and local department of health guidelines regarding size of gatherings and social distancing.
  • Spectators should use 6 feet social distancing. Families may sit/stand together but should social distance from others.  Frequent reminders should be made via public address.
  • Just as businesses may require customers to wear masks, schools may require spectators to wear masks.


Scorer’s Bench

These areas should be limited to:

  • Essential personnel – Scorekeeper, scoreboard operator, announcer
  • Media (as per guidelines below)

Individuals at scorer’s table should practice 6 feet social distancing.


  • Schools should communicate with media regarding protocols for practices and games. It is recommended that:
    • Space be provided for media game coverage that takes into consideration:
      • 6 feet of social distancing
      • Priority given to: 1) home team coverage; 2) visiting team coverage; 3) other coverage
    • Procedure be established regarding interview requests prior to/after practices and games, including
      • Identifying an area where interviews will be conducted.
      • Establishing a required advanced notice timeframe.


Concession Stands
  • The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals provides the guidance on school concession stands.
  • If concession stands are open, patrons should practice 6 feet of social distancing.


Training Rooms
  • All individuals utilizing the training room should wear a face mask at all times.
  • Host site athletic training room should not be available for visiting team pregame and postgame treatments.
  • If a team travels without an athletic trainer, all pregame taping, bracing, etc., should be completed before departure to the game. Host site athletic trainer should be contacted prior to the trip to plan for any requested accommodations.
  • All taping/exam tables should be disinfected before and after each use.
  • All taping/exam tables should be distanced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Cold and hot tubs should only be used by one individual at a time.
  • Cold and hot tubs should be drained, cleaned and disinfected between individual use and at the beginning and end of every day.


Participation Levels
  • This guidance is intended for high school varsity, subvarsity, and junior high school activities as overseen by the IHSAA.
  • Subvarsity and junior high sports are approved to resume IHSAA activities in the 2020-21 school year.