The Indiana High School Athletic Association, with support of its Board of Directors and feedback from its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, will continue to work in collaboration with Governor Holcomb’s office, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the Indiana Department of Education to provide guidance to its member schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Resource Center will continue to be updated with new information as conditions change during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IHSAA believes it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes to return to organized physical activity and build team relationships with their peers and coaches. Students who participate learn life lessons in an environment that cannot be duplicated. Academic achievement, the development of leadership and social skills as well as the mental health benefits are known to be greatly enhanced in students who participate in these programs compared to those who do not. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in thousands of our students missing out on these life-shaping educational experiences over the past several months. A study conducted by UW Health & the University of Wisconsin concluded that more than two-thirds of high school athletes report anxiety and depression since the onset of the pandemic. Another report by the group measured the impact of School Closures and Athletic Cancellations on the health of Indiana adolescents.
The IHSAA fully supports its member schools in determining what is in the best interests of the health and well-being of their student-athletes and staff. Each IHSAA member school’s athletic department will operate with the approval of its school administration in moving forward throughout the 2020-21 school year. It will be the decision of each local school district to determine if they can safely conduct athletic practices and contests.
Due to the nature of the outbreak, there may be inequities due to geography within the state of Indiana as some areas will have higher COVID-19 rates that may not warrant full athletic participation while another area has lower COVID-19 rates that allow full participation.
For workouts, practices, and competitions to continue, social distancing and other preventive measures such as face-covering/masking and frequent sanitizing of hands, implements, and equipment are strongly encouraged. This will likely remain in place until a cure, vaccine or very effective treatment is readily available, or so-called “herd immunity” is confidently reached.
As the science about COVID-19 evolves, it will be important to remain vigilant and nimble to respond to new
developments. Students and their families, along with school personnel, must recognize these risks and implement best practices to reasonably mitigate these risks. Participation in school activities is voluntary and every individual will need to evaluate the risk versus the benefits of athletics participation. Those immune-compromised students and staff, or those who live with family members with elevated health concerns, should evaluate associated risks of participation and may choose not to participate.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and also may be produced when yelling, cheering, singing and spitting. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Risk mitigation strategies should be aimed at reducing the likelihood ofa person being exposed to respiratory droplets coming from another person. Every school is different, and every athletics activity is different. Certain mitigation strategies may be feasible in one school or for one activity, but not another.
We are also providing sport-specific recommendations and/or considerations that our team has developed in
conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) or a similar governing body. These documents have been shared with member school administrators and links are available below. Note that a rule modification is a modification to a playing rule from the governing body of the sport and is a requirement to adhere to and follow. A recommendation is a consideration to the sport and allows for optional guidelines. Recommendations are not required but are permitted.
Again, this Resource Center will be updated as necessary.