The Illinois High School Association, in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health, has established new scheduling guidelines for high school sports, creating more flexibility for schools as they look to put together schedules for upcoming athletic seasons.
Originally, schools were going to be limited to regional and conference competitions as athletics resumed, but under the new guidelines, those schools whose regions are in Phase 4 guidelines can potentially schedule out-of-conference games, and could even have postseason tournaments.
In low-risk sports, such as swimming and diving, bowling, gymnastics, softball and baseball, non-conference games, out-of-state games, tournaments and state series events will be allowed to take place if regions are in Phase 4 or Tier 1 guidelines.
If the school’s health care region is in Tier 2, then conference games and out-of-region contests within 30 miles will be still be permitted in those sports.
In indoor sports classified as “moderate risk,” including volleyball and water polo, games can resume within conferences and within 30 miles if a region is in Tier 1 mitigations or better.
Outdoor sports that fall into the moderate risk category, including soccer, will be allowed to participate in out-of-conference events and postseason competitions if their respective health care regions are in Phase 4 mitigations.
In high-risk sports, including football, wrestling and basketball, games will only be allowed to happen within conferences and against schools within 30 miles of one another if the region is in Phase 4. If a region drops into Tier 1 or Tier 2 guidelines, no games will be permitted.
The number of spectators allowed to attend games also varies by coronavirus mitigation level. While no spectators will be allowed at games in regions that are under Tier 2 mitigations, up to 25 fans will be allowed for schools in Tier 1. For those schools in Phase 4, a maximum of 50 spectators will be allowed.
Competitions in seven different sports, including basketball, girls’ gymnastics, badminton, and boys’ swimming and diving, will be permitted to start this month. Boys’ soccer practice is slated to begin March 1, while football will be permitted to start on March 3, with the first games of the season set for March 19.