IHSA Announces New Guidance for Spring Sports, Schedule for State Finals for Baseball, Softball & Track

By Benjamin Cox on April 13, 2021 at 12:09pm

The IHSA Board announced new guidance for ongoing sports after their monthly meeting yesterday. IHSA announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health had updated guidance for students in low-risk and high-risk Spring sports.

Students competing in low-risk outdoor sports and activities are no longer required to wear masks while competing. In-season IHSA sports and activities impacted by the new guidance are bass fishing, baseball, softball, tennis, and track & field. Students must continue to wear masks in these sports and activities when they are not actively competing or considered “on the bench.”

Officials in these low-risk outdoor sports must continue to wear masks unless they are socially distanced. More guidance from IHSA and IDPH is expected in the coming days.

IDPH has also recommended COVID-19 testing for students in high-risk sports. IDPH announced that the state would fund optional testing for any school teams wishing to test their high-risk sports athletes. Current sports designated as high risk include football, boys lacrosse, and wrestling. IHSA is expected to provide schools with state testing contacts when the information is made available by IDPH.

IHSA also announced the following for State Finals in Spring Sports yesterday:
June 17: Class 1A at Illinois State University, Bloomington
June 17: Class 3A at the Schaumburg Boomers’ field
June 18: Class 2A at Illinois State University, Bloomington
June 18: Class 4A at Joliet Slammers’ field

June 16: 1A & 2A at Louisville Slugger in Peoria
June 17: 3A & 4A at Louisville Slugger in Peoria

Track & Field State Finals
June 10: 1A Girls
June 11: 2A Girls
June 12: 3A Girls
June 17: 1A Boys
June 18: 2A Boys
June 19: 3A Boys

In other IHSA Board action yesterday, they approved a recommendation to reduce the IHSA Summer Contact Day period from 25 contact days to 20 contact days for the summer of 2021 only. The Board approved a recommendation from the IHSA Financial Ad Hoc Committee to implement an annual membership assessment over the course of the 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 school years. Known as the IHSA Recovery Plan, the graduated fee structure is based on a school’s enrollment, which is generally a strong indicator of participation in IHSA sport and activity programs. Assessments for the 2021-22 school year will be collected through September 1, 2021.

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson says the fees and membership were not done lightly: “The IHSA Board does not make this decision, or for that matter, any decision that has a fiduciary impact on our member schools lightly. The pandemic has obviously been unprecedented and the financial impact on the Association immense. The large majority of the IHSA budget is derived from gate receipts from postseason tournaments, most of which have been canceled or void of fans for the past year or longer. Meanwhile, our mission has continued, as we maintain the majority of our day-to-day responsibilities for our membership, while also continuing to conduct many state tournaments in virtual formats with an increasing emphasis on returning to in-person events when possible. We have been open and transparent with our member schools about our financial standing and the cuts and freezes we have and continue to make in order to be as fiscally responsible as possible. Our financial ad hoc committee was representative of a diverse group of schools from around the state, and they discussed a number of different budgetary options. They were unanimous in their decision that they believed the best option was the membership assessment fee structure approved today by our Board. It is important to note that the IHSA Recovery Plan will be reevaluated over the next three years. If we are able to reduce or eliminate future assessments, then we will look to do so. We remain grateful and appreciative of all the support our member schools have provided us as we have navigated the uncertainty of the past year.”

The Board also approved a recommendation to approve Wrestling Guidelines for the 2021 season. The 2021 IHSA wrestling season will be conducted from April 19 to June 12. The guidelines will be posted on the IHSA’s COVID-19 guidance website in the coming days.