Indiana students can return to sports, school activities

Indiana State flag

The state’s reopening plan had called for Indiana to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions this weekend. Worries about a possible increase in coronavirus cases across the state prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb to keep those restrictions in place until at least July 18.

Posted: Jul 3, 2020 2:01 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2020 5:20 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Despite extended restrictions for Indiana restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, ongoing concerns over the coronavirus won't hamper students' return to school sports and activities next week.

The state’s reopening plan had called for Indiana to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions this weekend.

Worries about a possible increase in coronavirus cases across the state prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb to keep those restrictions in place until at least July 18.

Extracurricular and co-curricular activities, however, can resume as planned Monday, according to the governor's office.

In the guidance provided by the Indiana Department of Education, that return is expected to happen in three stages, each providing more liberties to student participants and spectators.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced offseason fall workouts will begin Monday, although athletes are limited to 15 hours per week on a school campus until at least July 19 — the anticipated end of the first returning phase.

During this period, locker rooms can’t be used, formal competition is discouraged and there should be no contact in practiced sports, according to state recommendations.

Sports teams will be allowed two activity days a week, limited to three hours per day.

Conditioning will be limited to four days a week at two hours per session.

Pools can be used, but schools are encouraged to work with state and local officials to create a plan for reopening recreational water facilities.

When students are not lifting weights or participating in an activity, face masks should be worn. Coaches and other personnel are expected to wear face masks always.

“From the very beginning, we've taken a pretty conservative approach to this,” said IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox. “We're not mandating — schools decide their own policies — but we think the guidance we're offering is helping schools make the best decisions for their students' return.”

The second stage of extra- and co-curricular reopening, scheduled for July 20-Aug. 15, still requires social distancing and limits on group sizes.

Contact can be reintroduced in contact sports and locker rooms may reopen at 50% capacity. Students will still be asked to wear face coverings.

Competition is not slated to begin until the beginning of the third phase on Aug. 15, with the exception of girls golf scheduled to start Aug. 3. Even then, contact should be limited to only what is required for competition, Cox said.

“I don't think anybody can expect their seasons to mirror identically what they experienced last year,” Cox said. “But at the end of the day, kids will compete against kids from other schools. It'll still be good competition and it's still rewarding.”

With the summer and fall months serving as peak season for high school marching band, student musicians will also experience a different approach.

Indiana's State School Music Association and the Indiana Music Education Association support a return to high school marching band “as soon as local health and safety protocols can be implemented.”

Bands are encouraged to refer to recommendations provided by ISSMA, IMEA, the state education department and the National Federation of State High School Associations, said ISSMA executive director Mick Bridgewater, in addition to meeting with state and local health departments for guidance.

“We want kids to be able to rehearse together and still get the marching band experience, but with as little contact as possible," Bridgewater said. “We do think that's possible with the right precautions in place."

Marching band guidelines recommend a hybrid mix of virtual and in-person practice with a phased approach to large ensemble rehearsals.

Music study should happen in small ensembles, and students should be spaced around 6 feet apart when learning drill formations. Shields should also be used for instruments, according to the guidelines.

All ISSMA marching band events scheduled for October and November — including the state competition held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — are still scheduled to take place, Bridgewater said, barring recurrent virus outbreaks. Some schools have already elected to cancel their marching band season, he noted.

And if Indiana returns to a stage three in the governor's reopening plan, marching competitions will be called off.

Indoor band, orchestra and choir groups should be smaller, IMEA recommends, and after school rehearsals are best if limited to 60-90 minutes.

Students should store instruments in lockers and bring their own music stands.

Teachers should disinfect shared instruments between uses and only allow the same students to make contact with a given instrument.

If classrooms are fully or partially virtual, the music associations suggest that educators could use Zoom for rehearsals, allow students to submit digital playing assignments online, live-stream or video-edit virtual performances, and even consider apps like TikTok for homemade duets.

ISSMA has also joined other state associations in an international study exploring the effects of the coronavirus in music classrooms and performance venues.

The study is examining aerosol rates when playing instruments or singing to determine the risk in performing arts settings. Results from the study are expected later this month and will be used to inform safety precautions this fall.

Still, all school-related summer activities, the state guidelines emphasize, are voluntary. As such, accommodations are in the works for students unable to participate.

Sports teams unable to compete in a contest because of the coronavirus, for example, will receive a “no game” and won't be penalized with forfeit or a loss, Cox said.

But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, state officials and school leaders warn that the return to sports and other activities could be delayed. And even after those activities start up, they could be put on hold once the academic year begins.

“There will be some limitations in place, but the goal right now is to provide the opportunities for student participation," Bridgewater said. “These activities are incredibly enriching to students, and we're working as hard as we can to make them available to the fullest, but safest, extent possible.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
Greene71812
Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
Erie59728
Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
Wayne54558
Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
Sandusky39017
Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
Auglaize2636
Union2601
Muskingum2431
Scioto2421
Jefferson2373
Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
Shelby2104
Washington20922
Preble2072
Coshocton1967
Champaign1812
Morrow1762
Crawford1755
Hardin17012
Clinton1696
Highland1661
Logan1602
Ashland1543
Fulton1531
Wyandot1509
Defiance1504
Brown1462
Perry1403
Williams1363
Henry1222
Fayette1210
Guernsey1197
Hocking1189
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike790
Jackson760
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Gallia701
Adams612
Meigs540
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Few Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
61° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 61°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events