Chicago Public Schools sports will be allowed to resume on Thursday, and athletes around the area are celebrating the decision as a step in the right direction.
Under rules published by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association, schools can begin to play games and participate in competitions seven days after starting practice, and that is a welcome change for students.
“I’m expected to be a little out of shape,” Ulises Diaz, a senior swimmer at Solorio Academy, said. “But I know with hard work I can get back.”
Two weeks after the IHSA updated guidelines were released, CPS announced Tuesday that high school sports, including bowling, boys’ swimming and diving, cheer, dance, basketball and badminton, will start practices on Thursday.
“We’re just excited CPS is allowing us to play and joining other leagues across the state,” Mather HS Boys’ Basketball Coach Nathan Small said. “My boys are excited and it’s going to be a fun time.”
Coaches and administrators participated in a call Tuesday to discuss protocols for the upcoming season, including limited attendance and mandatory mask-wearing in many sports.
As part of Illinois’ Phase 4 of coronavirus mitigations, schools can participate in out-of-area competitions and tournaments if they are considered lower-risk activities, while higher-risk sports, such as basketball, will be limited to regional competitions.
For CPS, there are other options still being discussed, including the potential for voluntary COVID testing for athletes. Those issues will be discussed in another call Thursday, where CPS is expected to lay out its full plans for athletic competition for the remainder of 2021.