Gov. Pritzker, IDPH Update Guidance for Return of Prep Sports

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The return of winter high school sports in central Illinois may be just around the corner. Illinois Govenor J.B. Pritzker announces today that regions of the state that have been dropped down to Tier 2 covid-19 mitigations will be allowed to have low-risk high school sports.

Three regions made that move today: Peoria, Rockford and southern Illinois. According to the current Illinois Departent of Public Health regulations, that will allow low risk sports such as boys swimming, girls bowling, cheerleading and dance to practice immediately and participate in competitions.

“There are regions that are moving into lower tiers of mitigations and in those lower tiers, as I announced today there are youth sports and recreational sports for adults that are opening up,” Gov. Pritzker said. “So I think that’s a good beginning.”

Also in Tier 2 mitigations, medium risk sports such as soccer and volleyball will be allowed to hold organized practices and scrimmage, while high risk sports such as football, basketball and wrestling can have no-contact practices.

Area athletic directors say its a step in the right direction and hope its the start of a 2021 high school sports season.

“We’re just all really excited about getting the kids back in the gym, back in activity, getting to see them as a team,” Washington athletic director Herb Knoblauch said. “They are just excited to get anything they can get, inside the gym with their team being safe.”

“We’re looking forward to that, it is good news and offers hope,” Metamora athletic director Jared Hart said. “Hopefully thats the building block, we can kind of moving forward and build some momentum here as we get into the next couple months. When our opportunities come, we want to be ready to go. So we’ll just take what we get and just roll forward.”

The IHSA released updated information on Friday afternoon, announcing further participation for winter and spring/summer sports. Below are the details:

WINTER SPORTS FOR SCHOOLS IN TIER 2 REGIONS
Low-Risk Sports: Can begin practice immediately and will begin competition within their geographic region on a future date to be determined by the IHSA Board.
Medium-Risk Sports: There are currently no winter sports categorized as medium-risk.
High-Risk Sports: Team training with no physical contact may begin immediately.

“This is certainly positive news for three regions of the state, but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy. We all need to continue to take the mitigations seriously. Wear a mask. Socially distance. We need to get these other regions to Tier 2 and cannot risk having others backslide.”

Spring and summer sports for schools located in regions under Tier 2 mitigations may begin to conduct contact days on Monday, January 25, 2021. All contact days must be conducted under the rules of the IDPH All Sports Policy based on their risk level. Weight training may be conducted in regions under Tier 2 mitigations as along as social distancing and masks are utilized.

All IHSA athletic activities remain on pause for schools that are located in Regions that remain under Tier 3 or Tier 4 mitigations. There are no medium-risk IHSA sports in the winter, while boys & girls basketball are the lone high-risk winter sports. The IHSA’s low-risk winter sports include Badminton, Boys Swimming & Diving, Cheerleading, Dance, Boys & Girls Bowling, and Girls Gymnastics.

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