Iowa school activities will begin “Family Break Week”
By Micah Knebel

Beginning Sunday, July 25 through Sunday, August 1, activities at Iowa schools will be on recess. The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IAHSAA) and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) will be implementing a “Family Week” during these eight days. During this period, coaches and/or teachers will be prohibited from having any contact with student-athletes, both on and off the school premises. A press release from IHSAA and IGHSAU noted that use of school facilities will be prohibited during the eight-day period for all high schoolers, including incoming ninth graders.

“This will provide a built-in break for everyone involved in Iowa high school athletics — participants, parents, coaches, officials, and school administrators – and an opportunity to prioritize family, friends, rest, and activities away from sports,” said IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger.

This “Family Break Week” will also be observed by the Iowa High School Music Association and Iowa High School Speech Association.

IHSAA communications director Chris Cuellar noted that the change came as a response to feedback from school administrators and directors about providing mandatory time off in the activities calendar. “Iowa is the only state to play summer baseball and softball,” said Cuellar, “and while we still view that as a benefit to our programs, it can make for an endless cycle of scheduling. The hope is that it can provide a much-needed break for everyone involved in Iowa high school athletics.”

“Overall, I was in favor of IAHSAA and IGHSAU implementing this into the calendar,” said Jesup athletic director Joe Smeins. “I think this provides a week where our families, athletes, and coaches have a week off to rest, travel, etc.”

Smeins noted he has one area of concern – as part of the “break week,” the baseball season, which currently takes place during that week, will be moved up one week. This means that baseball games are permitted to start as early as the week of state track, something the Jesup school currently does not allow. “Our current stance is that we will not play any varsity games during state track week, so we are losing a week there,” said Smeins. “I understand why they moved state baseball, but now baseball is really affected negatively by adding the ‘Family Break Week’.” This year’s state baseball tournament is exempt.

Despite the challenge, Smeins recognized the positive impact the change could have on students. “Athletes are asked to do a ton now, and Jesup isn't any different than other schools,” he said. “In order to have good athletes and teams, you have to provide opportunities year-round. The families with four-sport athletes sometimes never get a chance to get away. This will allow that without the pressures of feeling they need to be around for camps, open gyms, weight lifting, etc.”

Don Bosco shared the announcement in their newsletter. The school, like others, will be shut down to any school-related activities outside of the state baseball tournament this year. “Consider this the ideal time to take some time for yourself with your family/friends,” was the message from the school.
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