Winter 2020-21: Return to Competition

Updated: October 20, 2020

This document should be considered as providing recommendations from the IHSAA for member schools and may be updated before and during the winter 2020-21 season.

People (players, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices. The IHSAA and IGHSAU strongly encourages all participants and spectators to practice social distancing and wear face coverings whenever possible. Local policies may vary, including requiring face coverings for spectators.

Schools are asked to read a public address announcement at the start of each event encouraging social distancing (ex: arm test) and remind spectators to do their part to keep their kids healthy and active.


Basketball Event Considerations
  • Pregame Protocol
    • Limit attendees to the referee and the head coach from each team with each coach standing on the center circle on each side of the division line.
    • All individuals maintain a social distance of six feet or greater at the center circle.
    • Suspend handshakes and fist bumps prior to and following the Pregame Conference.
  • Team Benches
    • Social distancing should be practiced when possible. Below are some suggestions (not required).
      • Limit the number of bench personnel to observe social distancing of six feet or greater.
      • Place team benches opposite the spectator seating.
      • Additional chairs or rows may be added to allow bench personnel to observe social distancing of 6 feet or greater (consider fire code).
      • Create separation between the team bench and spectator seating behind the bench. Recommendation would be the first two rows of seating on team bench side whenever possible.
      • Limit contact between players when substituting.
      • Personnel not in the game should adhere to any required local/state face covering requirements.
  • Officials Table
    • The host should sanitize the table before the game and at half time.
    • Place officials table sufficiently away from the sideline to allow for additional space for substitutes.
    • Limit seats at the table to essential personnel which includes home team scorer, timer, and announcer with a recommend distance of 6 feet or greater between individuals. Other personnel (visiting scorer, statisticians, media, etc.) may not be deemed essential personnel and consider an alternate location for them. Table personnel should adhere to any required local/state face covering requirements.


Pregame & Postgame Protocol
  • The five starters on the visiting team will be introduced first.  They will move to the free throw line area on their end of the court until all starters are introduced.
  • The five starters from the home team will then be introduced and go to their free throw line area on their end of the court until all starters are introduced.
  • There will be no pregame handshakes or fist bumps.
  • When the game is concluded players will utilize an appropriate sign of respect and sportsmanship directed to their opponent and then exit the court to their team bench.  Please develop and utilize an appropriate sign of respect and sportsmanship that does not include handshake or other physical contact; suggestions include head nod, wave, chest thump with fist, salute, etc.


Basketball Rules Interpretations
  • Equipment & Accessories

    • Basketball
      • Host team is responsible for sanitizing the game ball as recommended by the ball manufacturer (do not use game balls for warmups) Game ball (s) shall be placed at the score table for the officials.
      • The host school should provide warm-up balls and properly sanitize them prior to being used before each game – recommendation would be to have a separate rack of balls for the home and visiting team.
      • The host school should ensure that the game ball is sanitized during time-outs and between quarters.
      • Sanitizer should be provided by the host team at the table.
    • Cloth face coverings are permissible for players.
    • Strongly consider requiring coaching staff and other bench personnel to wear face coverings while on the bench.
    • All players must sanitize their hands before and after warm-ups, at all timeouts, at quarter and halftime breaks, and anytime they leave the playing court. Coaches are strongly encouraged to sanitize their hands as often as possible as well.
  • Officials Uniform and Equipment
    • Long-sleeved shirts are permissible.
    • Officials should not be required to wear jackets during pre-game court/player observation.
    • Electronic whistles are permissible (supplies are limited).
      • Choose a whistle whose tone will carry inside.
      • Check the market for choices
      • Whistles with spit hoods/bags are permitted.
      • Face coverings with whistles built in are permitted.                             
    • Cloth face coverings are permissible.
    • Gloves are permissible.


Other Considerations
  • Throw-in
    • Official may stand 6 feet or greater away from player making the throw-in and bounce the ball to that player on a front court throw-in.
  • Free Throw Administration

            The lead official shall stand on the end line and bounce the ball to the free throw shooter.


Considerations for Coaches
  • Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents.
  • Consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students always training together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
  • Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed.


Considerations for Students
  • Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies (water bottle, hand sanitizer, face covering, towel, etc.)
  • Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home.
  • Player braces, equipment, etc. should be cleaned after each use/wearing.
  • Hand sanitizers should be plentiful at all games and practices.
  • Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
  • Cloth face coverings are permissible.
  • Bring your own water bottle.


Considerations for Officials
  • Take your temperature prior to attending your competition. If temperature is above 100.4 you should notify your contracted school immediately.
  • If you do not feel well and COVID-19 symptoms are present, notify your contracted school and assigner immediately and stay home.
  • Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash/sanitize hands upon arrival and frequently throughout your time working the contest(s).
  • Do not share equipment.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines during pre- and post-game conferences and during games.
  • Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
  • Officials may wear face coverings at all times. Officials are strongly encouraged to wear masks into the facility until they prepare for the contest but not required (halftimes, between games and after games).
  • Officials are NOT responsible for monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, hand sanitizing, symptoms of illness and other such issues. This monitoring remains with the coaching staff and school personnel.


Considerations for Parents, Workers, Volunteers
  • Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
  • The use of cloth face coverings is strongly encouraged. In addition, social distancing is strongly encouraged as much as possible for non-participants, parents, coaches, officials, and other event volunteers.


Considerations for Administration
  • Facility Sanitization – Consideration should be given to which facilities are going to need sanitization, how often will sanitization be needed, who will be doing the sanitizing. Make sure equipment is sanitized before and after each practice.
  • Basketballs should be cleaned according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Postseason – Potential options may be considered regarding the Regional/District/Substate and State Tournament games/format depending upon the status of Covid-19.
  • Locker rooms may be utilized however the Department of Public Health guidelines must be adhered to. Locker rooms must be cleaned and sanitized after each team leaves.
  • If the official locker room is small and officials can’t socially distance, consider providing a larger room for the pre-game meeting and halftime.
  • Admission may be taken using sanitization practices or a free-will donation container is an option as well.
  • For additional COVID-19 guidance, please contact the Iowa Department of Public Health at (515) 281-7689 or visit their website at


For COVID-19 related information on all IHSAA winter activities, please visit:

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