IHSA eliminates contact (for now) in updating Phase 4 guidelines
Less than a week after unveiling Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan, the Illinois High School Association announced in a Thursday email to athletic directors its intention to restrict the plan.
The key adjustments include no contact drills and no physical contact among athletes, in addition to a mandate that everyone wear a mask at all times indoors.
The IHSA received confirmation late Thursday from the Illinois State Board of Education and Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office that students participating in physical activity outdoors while socially distancing are not required to wear a mask.
Scrimmaging in sports that "require physical contact" are not allowed. The list of sports includes basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.
There also will be a strict 50-person limit, including spectators, on all indoor activities.
In the email from IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, he stressed the adjusted plan has been submitted to the Illinois Department of Health but still needs to be approved. Anderson also said the changes are a result of directives from the IDPH and Pritzker.
"The changes ... create an alignment with the ISBE guidance and the recent concerns we have heard from some of our school administrators since we shared our IDPH guidance," Anderson wrote.
The initial approval for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan came last Friday and went into effect Sunday. Just as football players and other athletes were ready to dive into camps, Thursday's edict arrived.
It's not a rollback to the basic conditioning of the previous phase, but no contact limits what many football, basketball and other athletic programs can do. And wearing a mask at all times -- especially outdoors in the 90-degree heat -- could be problematic depending on how the IHSA and IDPH work out whether or not that rule applies outside.
In his email Anderson noted the Phase 4 plan could change again in the coming weeks depending on the situation. The new Phase 4 restrictions, for example, could loosen in time for fall sport practices to begin in August.
"The changes and adjustments to Phase 4 return-to-play guidelines could come periodically in the coming weeks as the testing numbers fluctuate," Anderson wrote in the email.
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