During a COVID-19 update, Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced a change to IDPH guidelines for youth sports, allowing for all activities to resume in regions reaching full Phase 4 status.
Change to Youth Sports Guidelines
Previously, only low and medium risk sports would be allowed to compete. With the change, intra-conference or intra-EMS-region or intra-league play/meets will be permitted for all risk-levels. State or league-championship games/meets will be allowed for low-risk sports.
This is particularly good news for sports assessed a high-risk categorization from the IDPH including basketball, football and wrestling. Recently, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association submitted an argument to state officials requesting a return to the court. Currently, low risk sports are prepping for a return to play at a high school level, requiring seven practices prior to the first competition. No announcement has be made in regards to when that clock starts for medium and high risk sports to return for regions in Phase 4.
Where Regions Stand
With a change to IDPH metrics in the last week, all Illinois regions have exited Tier 3, with Region 8 (DuPage and Kane counties) currently in Tier 2 and Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) in Tier 1. Region 8, which contains the majority of Naperville, appears to be on the verge of qualifying for Tier 1. To qualify for Phase 4, regions must post a daily 7-day rolling average positivity rate of 6.5% or less. Region 8 is currently at 7.9%, and Region 7 is at 7.6%.
Winter and Spring Sports
As it currently stands, the winter sports season is set to end February 13, though with the lengthy delay that date is likely to be extended. In addition, spring sports are set to begin on February 15 including football, which was moved to the spring season early during the 2020-2021 academic year.
The IHSA has amended its COVID-19 resource page following the Governor’s announcement. Additional guidelines will be forthcoming, with the Board of Directors scheduled to meet on January 27.
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