In a regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting on Monday, the Illinois High School Association made several determinations, including the loosening of rules regarding masks.
Change to Mask Rules
Moving forward, low-risk outdoor sports can now have athletes who are actively participating play without masks. Previously, all athletes, regardless of risk assessment and environment, were required to wear a mask at all times.
The change comes as the slate of activities being conducted by the IHSA has shifted primarily to the outdoors. The change will impact bass fishing, baseball, softball, tennis, and track & field. In those activities, athletes and staff not actively on the field will still be required to wear a mask.
The move comes with recent changes to the guidelines constructed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Reduction in Summer Contact Days
The IHSA also announced a small reduction to summer contact days, from 25 to 20.
“Given the unusual nature of the school year, the IHSA Board and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) felt like a modest reduction in contact days would be in the best interest of the student-athletes’ and coaches’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being. With so many sports seasons being moved to the spring and summer this year, and with several overlapping, SMAC believes it is vital that we attempt to reduce the wear and tear on our athletes to reduce overuse injuries and allow them more time to recover.” Craig Anderson, IHSA Executive Director.
Increased Focus on Testing
In addition, the IDPH also has made a recommendation for increased testing of athletes in high risk sports. The activities that fall in that category remaining in the school year include football, boys’ lacrosse, and wrestling. The IDPH announced the state will fund testing for school teams that belong to IHSA member school. Participation in the program is optional. The Illinois High School Association will be providing those schools with state testing contacts as that information becomes available.
Changes Come at Precarious Time
While many sports have made it through their seasons relatively unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic, others, such as football, have been heavily affected on the local level. Postponements and/or cancellations have been a weekly occurrence for our area football teams during their shortened six week schedule.
For our coverage of local prep sports, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page!