IHSA Walks Back Portions of Return to Play Guidelines

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 10, 2020 at 9:28am

The return to normal for high school sports took a side backward Thursday.

The Illinois High School Association sent an amendment to their Return to Play rules in an email to school administrators today, changing the original rules that had been in effect since Monday.

The email was sent by IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson informing administrators of three changes to the Phase 4 plan, based on directives from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Governor’s Office.

The amendment states there cannot be any contact drills or physical contact among athletes, including 7 on 7 football scrimmages and basketball camps. No more than 50 people can be at any indoor activities, including spectators, and masks must be worn at all times by all persons in attendance.

It is reported that Anderson says in the email, the updates “create an alignment with the Illinois State Board of Education after recent concerns by some school administrators.

Jacksonville High School Athletic Director Ryan Van Aken says the update helps clear up a dilemma they had at the district level.

The ISBE came out with their return to school several weeks ago. Guidelines that schools would have to adhere to if we were going to open schools back up to physical learning. The problem there is, what they had listed there for the physical education requirements, differs from what the requirements are in the IHSA plan that came out on Friday.

Because of that a lot of the superintendents worried like, what does that mean? The Illinois Department of Public Health approved both plans, so what does that mean? There’s no consistency here.

Van Aken says a follow up email was sent this afternoon giving clarification on the wearing of masks during practices. He says masks will not be required during outside practices where social distancing can be maintained. Anderson also clarified that no scrimmages will be allowed for any sport where contact could be possible.

Van Aken says they hope things can get back to normal sooner than later, but safety of all involved is the most important aspect right now.

We understand that the safety of our students and our coaches is paramount. We just hope that as time moves on, things get better. But until then we are moving forward. I know some of the schools have decided to shut down all athletic activities with this new news. We are more of the opinion that we would like our student athletes to be with each other, to be with their coaches for the social aspect, for the mental health, for the physical well being. But we know obviously, things could change in two days. We could get clearance to do more in two days, or there could be an uptick in numbers and we go back down to phase 3.”

The official announcement has not yet been made public, however sources say it could be released as early as Friday. The IHSA indicated in the announcement that more updates to the Return to Play plan could be made in the coming weeks.