Thursday, September 17, 2020

IHSA defers to IDPH, others on Return to Play

By Mike Buhler

The Illinois High School Association announced last week that it will defer to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Governor’s Office on all of its Return To Play Guidelines moving forward.

“The IHSA, through their Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, was making recommendations on return to play,” Vienna High School athletic director David Hill said. “The IHSA was taking their marching orders from the IDPH, but ultimately when the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education couldn’t get on the same page, the IHSA punted their ability to make decisions back to the Illinois government agencies.”

Craig Anderson, the IHSA’s executive director, said that the IHSA sought more consistency on the safest way to move forward with sports and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is an unprecedented level of planning for this school year due to COVID-19, and we have come to understand that there needs to be a greater consistency between the guidelines for returning to learn and returning to interscholastic athletics,” Anderson said in a statement. “Some of the recommendations by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and directives from IDPH have come into direct conflict with each other, especially as it relates to the use of masks by student-athletes. As a result, we feel it is important to let IDPH and ISBE provide a consistent direction for our membership moving forward. We will wait on direction from these organizations for further guidance on Return to Play plans for the 2020-21 school year.”

Illinois high school teams are currently allowed to conduct limited summer contact workouts within the phase 4 guidelines. However the IDPH is revising those guidelines and new guidelines are will be issued in the near future.

Hill said that he understands the reasoning behind the IHSA’s decision.

“I don’t really blame the IHSA — I wouldn’t want to be the one making those decisions,” Hill said. “The IHSA had to make some tough calls back in March and throughout the spring, and I think it would’ve been tough for them to reverse their course with the recent spikes in reported positive test results.”

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