Ezike: Phase 4 Regions Can Begin School Sports Competitions

By Benjamin Cox on January 23, 2021 at 8:51am

Illinois school sports will be allowed to return in areas of the state that are under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan. Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced changes to their sports safety guidance for the state yesterday. The new guidance will now permit sports that are considered high risk to resume competitions. Medium risk sports like Volleyball, Soccer, Baseball, and Softball are also under the same guidance and will also be allowed to resume.

The regions that are currently in Phase 4 are Region 3 (West-Central IL), Region 5 (South-Eastern IL), and Region 6 (East-Central IL.)

Sports can now play intra-conference, intra-league, and/or intra-region game, but will not be able to have a state series or league championship. Winter sports’ seasons are currently scheduled to end on February 13th, with the spring sports schedule set to start on February 15th.

According to IHSA guidance, basketball can begin to play contests after 7 days for elementary level sports and 12 days for high school level. High schools are currently awaiting more guidance on whether they can begin competitions or not. High school volleyball and football are still slated to have their full regular seasons begin on February 15th as a spring sport this year.

Ezike said during the Governor’s COVID press conference yesterday that she’s been receiving emails and calls from students, parents, and coaches from all around the state stressing the need to return to play: “I hope that we will all use the experience that we have garnered as we go forward, so that we don’t, in fact, see another surge and go back into higher levels of mitigation that would suspend these levels of play. I hear, and I see, and I feel the passion around youth sports. I take very seriously the value that recreational outlets offer to the physical and mental health of our children.”

The IHSA is scheduled to meet this coming Wednesday to discuss further guidance involving moving sports scheduling around again and extending seasons.