The Illinois High School Association released its guidance for winter sports Thursday, revealing its advice for schools as they prepare to potentially practice and host games during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new guidance focused on basketball, bowling, cheerleading, dance, girls gymnastics and boys swimming and diving. (Full list of guidelines below)
Among the guidance are certain social distancing and mask requirements, capacity limitations within gyms, and the possibility of no spectators. Schools that do allow spectators must require masks. No handshakes, high fives or fist bumps will be allowed, the guidance states.
Players are urged to bring multiple masks to "replace sweat soaked masks throughout games and practices."
For sideline and competitive cheerleaders, along with competitive dancers, pyramids, partner stunts and lifts will be prohibited along with cheerleader-to-cheerleader physical contact. Masks must also be worn.
Basketball players, coaches and officials will be required to wear masks during play.
Practices for each sport would start in mid-November, with seasons getting underway on Nov. 30. The seasons would end on Feb. 13.
IHSA voted to allow the basketball season to move forward this winter, despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health re-classifying it as a "higher-risk" sport.
“After a diligent discussion, the board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee as it relates to basketball,” the IHSA said in a statement. “The board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization, nationally or internationally.”
The organization said that states bordering Illinois who have allowed sports to go forward in the fall have “noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread,” despite the IDPH guidance issued on Tuesday.
The decision by the IHSA would allow schools to make the final determination on whether or not they will participate in the basketball season, according to a press release following the board vote.
Tuesday’s decision by the IDPH to classify basketball as a “higher-risk” sport came as the IHSA continued its debate over moving forward with high school athletics this winter. Under guidelines issued by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, any sport labeled as a “higher-risk” activity should only conduct non-contact practices and workouts, meaning that returning to the court for competition would go against that guidance.
Illinois' State Board of Education warned that moving forward with the spot could have serious consequences.
“Defying the state’s public health guidance opens schools up to liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities,” Dr. Carmen Ayala, the superintendent of education for the state of Illinois, wrote in a letter to school officials Wednesday. “We are relying on superintendents and school leaders to make responsible choices to protect health and safety and to focus on bringing all of our students back to the classroom.”
Here's a look at the full guidance from IHSA:
Boys Swimming & Diving: https://www.ihsa.org/documents/CovidGuidelines/IHSA%20COVID%20SWD%20Guidelines%20Boys.pdf