The governing bodies for boys and girls high school sports released COVID-19 guidance for fall sports on Wednesday, including cross country and volleyball. Among the recommendations is to use electronic whistles along with the sanitizer and mask protocols.
The general guidelines for volleyball from the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union include reading a public service announcement at the start of each match to encourage social distancing and remind spectators to do their part in keeping their student-athletes healthy. Every guideline is essential to remain as safe as possible, said Oelwein volleyball head coach Lee Andersen.
“If this is what we need to do to be able to have a season and play, then it’s a small price to pay because it could easily go the other way,” Andersen said. “It’s obviously going to make things a little more difficult, but I don’t think there’s anything so difficult that it’s going to become something that we can’t do. Some extra planning and some extra preparation. That sort of thing.”
Extra preparation will include teams bringing their own volleyballs for use in warm-ups. Players must also sanitize their hands before and after warm-ups, at all timeouts, between sets and anytime they leave the playing court. Instead of handshakes, teams are asked to wave or bow before and after matches.
Additionally, volleyballs will be sanitized frequently throughout the match and immediately after a ball goes out of play if a spectator touches it. It is also recommended to eliminate the first two rows of seating if possible.
Despite all the guidelines implemented to be able to play a sport in 2020, coach Andersen remains optimistic that the game won’t waiver much amongst the adversity.
“Honestly, I don’t think it will affect the game too much because when it gets down to it, volleyball is volleyball,” Andersen said. “Social distancing on the bench and sanitizing won’t really affect the game. The only real way I see it affecting the game is that it could slow things down a little bit if we have to take frequent breaks and do more sanitizing in between games and things of that nature.
“However, I don’t think it will affect the game overall too much. It will obviously affect spectators and fans in the bleachers who will have to social distance, but the game itself I would hope will remain relatively unchanged.”
As for cross country, the general guidance from the IGHSAU and the Iowa High School Athletic Association includes no shaking hands, fist bumps or hugging. Students should tell coaches immediately if they aren’t feeling well, along with being responsible for their own equipment.
Guidance for officials, coaches and administrations are the same for cross country and volleyball. Officials are being told to consider using electronic whistles, and are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times.
Coaches are recommended to conduct workouts in “pods” of the same students always training together, as well as keeping records of athletes and staff attending practice in case contact-tracing is needed.
Schools will need to sanitize facilities regularly and are being asked to consider not having award ceremonies.
At the end of the day, the goal is to keep everyone as safe as possible while still being able to play the game.
“We’re all very happy to be able to play, but I take COVID-19 and all of this very seriously,” Andersen said. “Everyone’s safety is our number one priority. We want to make sure all of our coaches, kids and fans are safe and healthy, but when it comes down to whether or not we can even have a season, we’re all very happy that we can play. If this is what we have to do in order to be able to play then we’ll do it.”