Carefully and Safely Returning to “Normal” on the Playing Field
Saturday saw a couple of notable firsts at East High School. For one thing, the Scarlets hosted their first track and field meet in two years. Following last year’s pandemic-cancelled season, East welcomed two cross-town DMPS rivals – Lincoln and North – along with student-athletes from Fort Dodge, Johnston, Marshalltown and Ottumwa to a boys track meet. While the skies were gray and the temperatures a little chilly, it was offset by a sense of relief in being able to compete again.
The second thing of note on Saturday is it was the first high school meet held on the new track at East’s William Stadium. In cooperation with Grand View University, who also use the stadium in partnership with DMPS, a new track and new field were installed last year. It may have put a spring in the step of the student-athletes to be able to start a new season on one of the newest and best tracks in the state.
The return of spring sports at DMPS is another step in carefully returning to “normal.”
High school sports around Iowa and across the country have been interrupted over the past year due to the pandemic. A year ago, sports – from the high school level on up through the pros – were put on hold. In the summer, a high school baseball and softball season was played although dozens of teams in Iowa saw their seasons interrupted due to positive COVID-19 cases. At DMPS, the fall sports season ended after just a few weeks when virtual learning went in effect while the winter sports season began a little later with the return to in-person learning.
But it’s looking to be a regular high school sports season in the spring of 2021. Track and field meets are already underway while girls golf along with soccer and tennis matches are about to begin.
However, just because things are looking brighter does not mean – to use a metaphor from a fall sport – we are going to spike the football at the five-yard line and prematurely celebrate the end of the pandemic. While spring sports are outdoors, which in itself helps mitigate the spread of the virus, DMPS is going to continue some precautions in the interest of our students, staff and fans.
For example, face masks will be required at all DMPS venues, and social distancing will be encouraged of spectators who are not together. Guidelines and requirements may vary from venue to venue. High schools will inform their players and families if a school or district has additional requirements in place.
As the meet went on throughout the morning and early afternoon at Williams Stadium there was the occasional glimpse of sun poking through the clouds, another metaphor as more and more students resume their activities.