IHSA Return To Play Guidelines Begin Tomorrow

By Benjamin Cox on July 4, 2020 at 3:30pm

The Illinois High School Association has released guidelines for students to return to play beginning Sunday. The Illinois Department of Public Health approved the guidelines early this past week after the state moved into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

Under the new guidelines, high school teams can practice in groups of 50 people or fewer, including both coaches and student athletes. There will be 20 contact days between June 30th and August 9th for team activities. Student athletes will be limited to five hours of participation per day.

Individual school administrations will have to approve athletic practices before teams are allowed to begin following the guidelines.

The guidelines are in summary as follows:

1. Schools must maintain a daily record of what athletes are participating, when, and symptoms they may present on a form provided by IHSA. Athletes and coaches are to be screened prior to practice. Anyone presenting symptoms or receives a positive COVID-19 test, must receive clearance from a licensed physician before returning to practice, workouts, or competition. Signage about symptoms and transmission should be posted in athletic facilities.
2. Gatherings of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors, are allowed. Thirty feet of space must be maintained between gatherings of 50 when outdoors. Indoors limits of 50 individuals is the maximum no matter the spacing. Social distancing should be maintained at all times when not participating actively in practice or competition. If locker rooms are a necessity, 6 ft. of space between individuals should be maintained.
3. Appropriate personal hygiene and sanitation of hands and equipment must be followed. Athletes should wash their clothes and shower after all practices and competitions.

1. Adequate cleaning schedules, before and after each use by a group of athletes, should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases.
2. All hard surfaces should be thoroughly sanitized. Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment.
3. Hand sanitizer should be available and plentiful throughout facilities.

Activity & Equipment
1. Coaches are encouraged to use a staged approach to build back up to full summer contact activity and competitions. Local districts should work with their health departments and local school officials to make decisions about team travel to summer competitions.
2. There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing, or shoes between athletes.
3. Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations should be plentiful at summer contact events.
4. Athletic equipment such as bats and batting helmets should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, such as catchers gear, hockey helmets/pads, wrestling ear guards, football helmets/shoulder pads, lacrosse helmets/pads/gloves/eyewear should be worn by only one individual and not shared. Shared equipment during competitions should be frequently switched out or cleaned during competitions.
5. All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared.
6. Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) may be utilized to fill individual water bottles but must be cleaned after every practice/contest.

1. Group sizes should be limited to 50 total participants, coaches,and referees excluding spectators. Substitutions can sit on the sidelines 6 ft. apart.
2. During the use of summer contact days, multiple groups of 50 or fewer participants are permitted in an outdoor facility at once as long as they are allowed to socially distance and 30 ft. of distance is maintained between each group of 50.
3. If schools choose to permit spectators, there should be a designated area for spectators with existing seating capped at 20% of capacity and allows 6 feet of distance between families/household units. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own seating whenever possible.
4. Facilities must have signage about transmission of COVID-19 and markers displaying socially distant metrics for spectators, coaches, and players to follow.
5. Concession stands may open in line with restaurant businesses physical workspace guidelines. Concession stand lines should be marked to encourage social distancing.
6. No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, hugs, etc.can occur pre or post-match between teams or teammates.
7. No spitting or blowing of the nose without the use of a tissue is allowed.

1. Coaches and volunteers must wear a mask.
2. Officials must wear a mask except when ACTIVELY exercising as part of their officiating duties and use an electronic whistle. Mouth whistles and blow horns are not allowed for safety. Officials are encouraged to be masked whenever feasible to decrease risk of transmission.
3. Participants should be encouraged to wear a mask if feasible for the sport.
4. If available, it is encouraged that an Athletic Trainer or medical personnel be available for workouts.They should be masked for any interactions with athletes and maintain appropriate social distance when feasible.

Any further official updates will be posted on IHSA.org and the IHSA social media platforms.