The first Iowa High School football practices of the year are scheduled to begin on Monday, August 10 and as that date quickly approaches, the Iowa High School Athletic Association has released its guidelines for the upcoming season.

Among the 2020 "Return to Competition" guidelines are a lengthy list of social distancing measures. Those include:

  • Players should stay 6 feet apart via spacing during stretching and drills.
  • When getting instruction from coaches, avoid having players close together.
  • The National Federation of State High School Associations Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (NFHS-SMAC) says players should conduct workouts in pods of 5-10. That same group should always work out together.
  • The team box on each sideline will go down to the 10-yard line this year. That will give each sideline 30 more yards for players to spread out. Coaches must stay inside the 25-yard line box, except for supervision.
  • Schools should decide if roster limits are needed to help with social distancing.
  • No handshakes prior to and following the coin toss.
  • No handshakes following games. Non-contact acknowledgments are encouraged.

The IHSAA also released protocols for games and practices. They include:

  • NFHS-SMAC recommends hand sanitization when going onto and off the field. It's suggested that player bring their own sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Every four minutes of clock time there will be an officials' timeout. That will allow each team to hydrate and sanitize. The timeout will be two minutes long. There will also be two-minute breaks after the first and third quarters.
  • Masks are encouraged for all, but not required. Players and coaches are encouraged to wear solid color masks.
  • Only face shields that are clear and attached to the helmet and face mask will be allowed.
  • Mouth protectors should be kept in the mouth at all times. When touched, hands should be sanitized.
  • Players should cover as much of bare skin as possible.
  • Spitting is prohibited during the 2020 season.
  • Water should only be drunk. It should not be used to rinse the mouth, mouthpiece, or poured on the face or neck.
  • Game balls will be sanitized throughout the game and the ball will be replaced on each fourth down.

Iowa schools can opt-out of the high school football season. KCCI reports the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) is asking for those decisions to be made by August 17. The first games are scheduled for 10 days later, on August 27.

Tom Keating, the Executive Director of the IHSAA, told KCCI,

I would respect what school districts, their administrators and their boards have to make decisions about, and this is one of those things and we would absolutely respect any decisions they make about it.

Guidance for the other fall sports, cross country and golf, are available HERE.