As Illinois regions begin moving into Tier 2 mitigations, some high school sports can return to the field, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday.
Illinois health officials provided guidance for athletes as Region 1, Region 2 and Region 5 enter Tier 2 mitigations, with Pritzker noting other regions could be close behind.
The Illinois Department of Public Health divided sports into categories of "higher-risk," "medium-risk" and "lower-risk." though no winter sports fall in the "medium-risk" category.
Here's what is allowed for high school sports in Tier 2 mitigations, according to IDPH:
Lower-risk sports: Intra-conference or intra-EMS-region or intra-league play/meets only are allowed; state or league championship games/meets are allowed
Medium-risk sports: Intra-team scrimmages allowed (with parental consent for minors); competitive play is not permitted
Higher-risk sports: No-contact practices and trainings only are allowed
The Illinois High School Association said the Board is working to determine a day in which lower-risk sports can begin competing within their geographic regions. The IHSA added that spring and summer sports for schools under Tier 2 mitigations may begin to conduct "contact days" on Jan. 25.
“This is certainly positive news for three regions of the state, but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy.”
The sports included in each of the risk categories are as follows:
- Bass Fishing
- Competitive Cheer
- Competitive Dance
- Cross County
- Disc Golf
- Horseback Riding
- Ice Skating
- Ropes Courses
- Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking
- Scholastic Golf
- Sideline Spirit
- Track and Field
- Weight Lifting
- Flag Football or 7v7 Football
- Water Polo
- Wheelchair Basketball
- Martial Arts
- Ultimate Frisbee
The IHSA Board of Directors met Wednesday, according to a release, and are scheduled to meet again on Jan. 27 where they will likely select a date when lower-risk sports can begin competing.
“We all need to continue to take the mitigations seriously,” Anderson said. “Wear a mask. Socially distance. We need to get these other regions to Tier 2 and cannot risk having others backslide.”
For a full list of high school sports coronavirus guidance per Tier, click here.
The regions, which can now move to Tier 2, include:
Region 1: Northern Illinois (Jo Davies, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, Dekalb, Carrol, Ogle, Whiteside, Lee, Crawford)
Region 2: North-Central Illinois (Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Putnam, Kendall, Grundy, Mercer, Knox, Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Fulton, Stark, Marshall, Peoria, Tazwell, McLean, Woodford, Livingston, Lasalle)
Region 5: Southern Illinois (Marion, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Perry, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Massac, Pulaski)
"Of our remaining regions, the data shows that most are on track to leave Tier 3 in the coming days if current trends hold," Pritzker said Friday.
Under the state's guidelines, a region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if it sees a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available, as well as declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.