On March 16, the IGHSAU, IHSAA, IHSMA, and IHSSA announced that all spring activities are prohibited through the state’s K-12 school recommended closure of four weeks. On April 17, all IHSAA and IGHSAU sports were canceled for the spring and the prohibited period for practice, competition, and sanctioned activity was extended until further notice.
Additional guidance on eligibility was provided and updated on Monday, March 23 and again on Monday, April 6.
IHSMA has cancelled Class 4A and 1A solo/small ensemble festival set for April 18, and the state large group festival series set for May 8-9.
All IHSSA (speech) events will be prohibited to practice or make up their individual state local contest until the closure is lifted. All contact between coaches, judges, and students for the duration of the period is prohibited. The all-state festival scheduled for March 30 has been cancelled.
As this situation is rapidly changing, all four organizations continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary. Notifications will go out immediately to member schools should updates be made.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What specifically is prohibited for coaches and their athletes?
A. In-person contact between coaches/administrators and student-athletes in all sports is prohibited. This means no practices, no competitions, no scrimmages, no strength and conditioning activities, no training sessions or participation with other school programs.
Sport specific virtual (video, phone, social media, etc.) contact between coaches and athletes in all sports (except baseball and softball – see below) is prohibited. Virtual “wellness” check-in with athletes is permitted. Posting links to articles and videos (not produced by the coach) is permitted. Sending such links to individual or groups of students is not permitted.
Q. What happens to softball and baseball in the summer?
A. Softball and baseball seasons are suspended, pending a decision in early June regarding whether or not school facilities may re-open.
Q. May softball and baseball coaches have contact with their athletes?
A. Baseball coaches may provide video instruction in pitching, catching and hitting. Beginning May 4, baseball coaches may also provide video instruction regarding fielding.
Softball coaches may provide video instruction in pitching and catching. Beginning May 1, softball coaches may also provide video instruction regarding hitting and fielding.
Coaches should take great care to communicate appropriately and effectively the expectation that workouts should be done by individuals on their own time and are voluntary in nature.
Q. How does this impact the coach-athlete out-of-season contact rule?
A. We are awaiting guidance from the Department of Education on this. Once the guidance is received, it will be shared here.
Q. How does this apply to unsanctioned athletic programs, such as clubs within the schools?
A. Local district policies would govern those activities and organizations.
Q. May a music instructor continue to practice for the make-up of a previously missed contest with students during the closure?
A. There should be no in-person contact between teachers/administrators and participants for the duration of the prohibited period. Any effort to provide IHSMA participants with a make-up experience should take place only via digital media through the duration of the prohibited period.
Q. IHSSA is allowing its speech participants to make up the state contest locally. Can teachers/coaches schedule practices and/or make up contests with judges during this time?
A. All IHSSA events will be prohibited to practice or make up their individual state local contest until the closure is lifted. All contact between coaches, judges, and students for the duration of the period is prohibited. The all-state festival scheduled for March 30 has been cancelled.
Q. I am a spring sport official and planned to attend a clinic that was postponed. What should I do?
A. All officiating clinics within the four-week timeframe have been postponed. As things progress, we will make an attempt to re-schedule some of those clinics if at all possible. If you are an official who must attend a clinic this year in order to be certified for postseason assignments, that requirement will be waived for this year.
Q. How will this delay affect the 30-day period of ineligibility for the scholarship rule and/or the 90-day period for transfers and open enrollments? Will the time off count toward the limits or will students have to serve the period once schools are back in session?
A. The IGHSAU and IHSAA are seeking guidance from the Department of Education specific to those provisions of the Iowa Code. Only the Department of Education has the ability to issue interpretations of Iowa Code. Once a determination has been made, we will notify school leaders. School administrators should continue to keep accurate records of how many days have been served toward each period for students in these situations.
Q. Are the association offices still open?
A. All offices are closed, but all administrators are working remotely and remain available.
Q. Who can I contact for more information if I have a question?
A. For girls’ sports, IGHSAU administrators will remain available during this time: www.ighsau.org/about/staff
For boys’ sports, IHSAA administrators will remain available during this time: www.iahsaa.org/about/staff
Future updates and guidance on IHSMA events will be available through www.ihsma.org.
Guidance on future IHSSA activity will be announced through www.ihssa.org
ELIGIBILITY & CONTACT FAQs
Updated: Monday, May 11
Academic Scholarship Rule
Q. When do we start counting the 30-day ineligibility period for a student who failed a course the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year or the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year and a summer sport is the first sport in which they compete?
A. At this time, we will continue to use the current starting date and ending dates for the scholarship rule for the summer of 2020.
Q. What about a student who failed a course the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year or the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year if the spring and summer sports seasons are cancelled?
A. An updated academic scholarship rule sheet is now available here for 2020-21 dates.
Transfer/Open Enrollment Rule
Q. We have several students who transferred/open enrolled to our school at the beginning of the second semester and were ineligible for 90 school days at the varsity level. How do we determine when they will be eligible for varsity sports?
A. According to guidance from the Governor’s office, the legislature passed legislation stating that school districts did not need to make up the days missed due to the recommendation to close schools for 4 weeks. Therefore, if you missed 20 days of school due to COVID-19 school closure, you can include those days as part of the student-athlete’s 90 school day ineligibility period. School days missed due to snow dates, spring break, etc. are not eligible to be counted in the 90 school day ineligibility period.
Q. Our school district cancelled school beginning March 16th through April 12th. Our third quarter began on Monday, March 16th and a student-athlete was planning on transferring/open enrolling and beginning school with us on Monday, March 16th. Can they begin counting their 90 school day ineligibility beginning March 16th, even though they have not been in our school yet?
A. No they cannot begin counting their 90 school days since they have not been a student in your school at this particular time. Once you begin school again, they may begin counting their 90 school days of ineligibility at the varsity level.
Q. A non-public school is offering distance learning to all of its students while the school shut down is in place. The school will revert back to in-school instruction once the shutdown is over. The courses will be assessed and a grade issued for the work completed. If a transfer student enrolls at the non-public school and is enrolled in the on line courses, can he/she begin counting their 90 school day ineligibility period on the first day of enrollment in the distance learning?
A. No. While individual non-public districts are able to offer on line learning for credit, that option is not available to all school districts. Public schools offering on line learning must be approved by the Department of Education. The online learning by the non-public district is not a regular option for students in the district and is a stop-gap measure until the school re-opens. The transfer rule must be applied equitably during this time.
Local School District Code of Conduct Issues
Q. We have a student who violated our local school district’s Code of Conduct policy and is scheduled to miss 1/3 of our track and field season. How should I go about determining what a third of the season is?
A. All Code of Conduct eligibility is determined by local school districts.
Q. Should our coaches be encouraging kids to work out together?
A. Encouraging students to work out together defeats the goal of social distancing. Coaches should not encourage this. Guidance provided by Drake University’s Department of Athletic Training dictates the following: If athletes are doing workouts on their own (i.e. lifting, throwing, etc.), limit the number of workout partners to only 1 or 2 individuals. Do not have multiple/different workout partners; stay consistent with the same 1 or 2 individuals. Your workout partner should be quarantined and only socializing with their immediate family (no additional outside groups or people). Otherwise, this defeats the purpose. This allows you to have a workout partner, but limits your exposure.
Q. May our coach conduct training sessions via video conferencing software (Zoom, Google Hangout, FaceTime, etc.)?
A. Since we are using our coach-athlete contact rule as a model for what we’re prohibiting now, this would be prohibited. This means no live and/or group demonstration or specific instruction; no live coach-directed instruction is permitted. Spring sport (only) coaches may share (including links to) articles and individual workout videos (including coach-created). Coaches may not require athletes to complete workouts nor require athletes to report workouts completed.
Q. May our strength and conditioning coach conduct training sessions via video conferencing software (Zoom, Google Hangout, FaceTime, etc.)?
A. Similar to guidance for spring sport coaches, no live and/or group demonstration or specific instruction is permitted. A strength and conditioning coach may share (including links to) articles and individual workout videos (including coach-created). None of these may be sport-specific and must be shared with all students in the school; not select students. Coaches may not require athletes to complete workouts nor require athletes to report workouts completed.
Q. If schools go to online schooling for a period of time or the rest of the year, what impact does this have upon academic eligibility dates and transfer eligibility dates?
A. Unless the Department of Education allows schools to count days of online instruction as official school days, these dates would not count toward eligibility.
Q. If schools are asked to extend the day (add hours to the day), what impact does this have upon academic eligibility dates and transfer eligibility dates)? Previous guidance from the DOE, said 90 days is 90 days, but does the current situation justify new guidance from the DOE?
A. Adding hours to school days does not impact the ineligibility period. Regardless of how many hours or minutes are in a school day, it remains counted as one school day.
Published: Tuesday, March 17
Most recent update: Monday, April 27