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School board approves summer sport seasons

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — Marshalltown Community School District Superintendent Theron Schutte tells the board that extra steps have been taken to protect the health of players, coaches and spectators for the upcoming summer sports season.

Plans for the summer baseball and softball seasons were approved by the Marshalltown Community School Board.

During the regular Monday meeting, Marshalltown High School Activities Director Ryan Isgrig told the board the life of personnel in the activity department was turned upside down following the announcement of Gov. Kim Reynolds that summer sports would return.

“This thing is ongoing,” he said. “Things are changing daily and weekly and you know some things we got late last week. We still don’t know what this or that might look like.”

Isgrig presented the board with a plan on how sports would be reinstituted. He said schools can make decisions on guidelines.

Isgrig said a COVID-19 waiver has been implemented which athletes and parents had to sign before Monday, which was the first day of practice.

A Powerpoint presentation was given to the Marshalltown Community School Board to highlight important steps the district is taking to ensure a safe sports season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The parent and the kid are required to initial and sign the waiver and it basically says participating in athletics is purely voluntary; they understand the risks involved; if they have any symptoms, they are not allowed to come to practice or games and they are supposed to let us know if they have any suspected symptoms,” he said.

Some safety measures have been put into place. Coaches will screen athletes for temperatures before practices and games. Isgrig said signs have been posted around the facility and dugouts will not be used for practice, only for games. Masks will be required in the dugouts.

“We’ve been evaluating a variety of different mask options from a breathability standpoint and a cost standpoint,” Superintendent Theron Schutte said.

Board member Sara Faltys had concerns about masks causing hyperventilation or heat-related health issues.

Board member Jan McGinnis asked if students would be allowed to step outside of the dugout and remove the mask to help alleviate any issues. Isgrig told her a dugout can be extended with a canopy, but it is too early to say that is an option.

“One thing we want to consider with kids outside the dugout is safety,” isgrig said. “If they’re standing outside the dugout, like anyone, they can get hit by a foul ball.”

Schutte said the masks will be breathable and are designed with athletes in mind.

Isgrig said parents have to stay in their cars to drop off and pick up students at practices. He said some parents like to watch practice or visit with other people, but that will not be allowed this year. Athletes also need to leave the premises immediately after practice.

Isgrig anticipates multiple buses will be used to get to games. Multiple drivers will be available and will be required to stay at the game site.

Seating on the buses will be placing students in every other seat or limiting the amount of athletes who can travel. Everyone riding the bus will be required to wear masks. Buses will be sanitized before and after.

The first game will be held June 15 and hosted by Marshalltown. Isgrig said seating will be limited for fans and how that will be set has not yet been determined.

Isgrig said people will not be able to spit sunflower seeds and there will be no concession stands. Game attendees will be encouraged to wear masks.

“We’re taking it one day at a time right now. Things could look completely different a week from now but I think right now I am confident we have a great start to the season,” Isgrig said.

Schutte said it is important to remember Marshall County is still a hotspot for COVID-19 and the district has expanded the minimal state requirements.

“We are taking reasonable steps to best ensure under our current circumstances in Marshall County that our players, our student athletes, our coaches and hopefully our spectators stay healthy and well,” Schutte said.

Contact Lana Bradstream at lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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