Closing of schools for remainder of school year forces cancellation of Iowa high school spring sports season

Following the Friday, April 17 recommendations to keep Iowa schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), all spring activities of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) and the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) have also been canceled.

The cancellation of all four boys and girls sports - golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field - was made by the IGHSAU and IHSAA in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Education and State of Iowa officials. The decision was also approved by the IGHSAU and IHSAA boards. The cancellation is effective for all spring practices, competitions and postseason events.

Guidance from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Public Health had previously suspended spring activities through April 12, then through April 30. Governor Reynolds announced the extended closure of in-person schooling and school activities with Department of Education executive director Dr. Ann Lebo at a news conference Friday, April 17.

“While we are disappointed that student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete this spring, we remain committed to our primary goal of keeping students, coaches, officials and communities safe,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “This cancellation comes out of an abundance of caution for the well-being of all.

Conducting our spring season would involve moving groups of people in and out of various communities for competition. At this time we believe that is a risk we should not take.”

The spread of COVID-19 has caused an unsatisfying and unfortunate end to the 2019-2020 school year as students across Iowa and the United States have faced cancellations and suspensions of school and athletic competition. The IGHSAU and IHSAA would like to thank all spring sports participants, coaches, administrators, officials and spectators for their passion, patience and effort during this unprecedented time.

“We understand the important role that athletics and activities play in the lives of our students, schools and communities,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “But during this time of uncertainty, we must support the health and safety recommendations of our state and national leaders. This decision is especially heartbreaking for our senior competitors, and we thank them for all they have done to represent their schools throughout their careers.”

Summer sports (baseball and softball) are suspended pending an assessment made in collaboration with State officials before June. Practice, competition and postseason dates will be announced when they become available.

Both organizations will continue to follow guidelines from health and government officials in determining when it is safe to resume school activities and mass gatherings.

In the 2018-2019 school year, the four spring sports accounted for over 45,000 participants among Iowa high school boys and girls. Track and field was the second most popular sport by participation for both the IHSAA (12,012 boys) and the IGHSAU (9,908 girls).

The IGHSAU and IHSAA continue to encourage member schools and communities to follow the guidance of Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health via https://idph.iowa.gov/ and https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/. Updates will continue to be made by the IHSAA and IGHSAU online and shared with member schools on summer and 2020-2021 activities.
 

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