State approves 2020 summer sports starting June 1

Baseball and softball practices may begin June 1, games to start June 15 with COVID-19 guidelines in place

 AREA -- Play ball!
 There will be a high school baseball and softball season, after all, for eager athletes, coaches and fans across the state.
 On Wednesday morning, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that summer athletic seasons could be held at the high school level following a two-month suspension of activities due to COVID-19, including the cancellation of all spring sports.
 By Wednesday afternoon, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union made it official, announcing in a joint release - with guidance from the Iowa Department of Education - that there will indeed be summer sports.
 The announcement approved the reopening of school facilities and the start of baseball and softball practices on Monday, June 1. Games may begin on Monday, June 15, and fans will be permitted to attend. However, a number of Iowa Department of Education health guidelines will be in place throughout practices and games in relation to social distancing and general hygienic practices.
 “I am excited for the kids to have a chance to play baseball again and get back to a place that is somewhat normal,” stated Harlan Community head baseball coach Steve Daeges. “This is going to be a challenge for all of us to adjust to new regulations and restrictions, but will be worth it to get back on the field.”
 Toshia Kasperbauer, who was previously the HCHS head softball coach in 2011 and 2012, is anxious to start her second go-around on the job. “We are excited to get a chance to play,” she said. “We know that there will be a lot of stipulations to follow, but at this point we will do whatever we need to do.”
 The IHSAA Board of Control and IGHSAU Board of Directors met after Governor Reynolds’ announcement and voted to approve holding abbreviated summer seasons, which were originally set to begin the week of Monday, May 25. Both organizations plan to hold their state tournaments as previously scheduled, with state softball at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge (July 20-24) and state baseball at Principal Park in Des Moines (July 24-August 1).
 Iowa Department of Education reopening guidance entitled “Summer Sports” and “Use of School Facilities” are to be followed by member schools. These guidelines were made with recommendations based on conversations with the IHSAA, IGHSAU, Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office. Dr. Ann Lebo, executive director of the Iowa Department of Education and member of the IHSAA Board of Control, was expected to join Governor Reynolds at her daily briefing on Thursday.
 Further sport-specific guidance and FAQ lists will be provided early next week by the IHSAA and IGHSAU.
 “The IHSAA thanks Dr. Lebo, Governor Reynolds, Dr. Pedati, the IDPH and all who have worked diligently to develop these guidelines to help us conduct baseball season for the young people in Iowa,” said IHSAA executive director Tom Keating. “We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe. This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
 IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger stated: “The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer. We are grateful for their leadership and support.
 “We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
 Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, coach-athlete contact for all in-person, out-of-season sports will remain suspended until July 1.
 Some of the health guidelines to be used for baseball and softball include the following. A complete list will be provided in Tuesday’s Harlan Tribune.
 • Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in practice or games if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
 • Dugouts may only be used during games.
 • Players should use their own gloves, helmets and bats as much as possible.
 • Coaches must sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice or game.
 • Players and coaches should check their temperature before and after practices and games.
 • Anyone with symptoms of illness is not allowed to practice or participate in games. Fans with symptoms should not attend.
 • No concession stands are permitted.
 • Limited use of bleachers for fans, who are encouraged to bring their own chairs or stand while social distancing.

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