IHSAA releases guidelines, requirements for fall season

by DYLAN GREENE
Sports Editor | July 17, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Finally, we have answers.

The Idaho High School Activities Association released a 52-page guide Thursday afternoon for schools in the state to follow as they try to start fall sports. The IHSAA made it clear their goal is to start all activities on time and said it is unlikely that all athletes “will be able to return to and sustain athletic activity at the same time in all schools and regions in Idaho.”

For schools in Ada County, the largest in Idaho, returning to play will be much harder. Ada has 4,726 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic, according to the Central Health District. Meanwhile, Bonner County has had 91 cases, according to the Panhandle Health District.

Due to the drastic differences from region to region, the IHSAA is letting local school districts decide when or if it is safe to play sports this fall.

The IHSAA is asking local school districts to follow four requirements to play sports this fall. The first requires schools to have a plan for hosting events with fans and teams that references guidelines laid out by Gov. Brad Little in his four-stage reopening plan. The plan has to be approved by the school district board and the local health department.

The second requires schools to have a transportation plan for practices and games. The third asks for school districts to have a plan in place if an athlete, coach or anyone involved in an program tests positive for COVID-19. The final requirement is schools have a return-to-participate plan that is made in conjunction with the school board and health department.

The rest of the document contains guidelines for returning to play and for each fall sport — football, volleyball, soccer, swimming, cross country and cheer. These guidelines are suggestions for schools to implement and are not required.

One thing is for sure, pre and post game handshakes and high fives will be a thing of the past, at least for the rest of this year, and the way players line the sidelines will certainly look and feel different.

The IHSAA and the other organizations involved with creating the guidelines “believe it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition” this fall.

The IHSAA said the guidelines and requirements they have laid out are subject to change based on decisions made by the governor and the Idaho State Board of Education.

The bottom line — high school sports will most likely be played this fall in Sandpoint (fingers crossed).

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Sandpoint volleyball breaks it down following a timeout during a match at Lakeland last year.