Diocese of Rockford tells schools no basketball this winter
As school officials continue to seek legal and insurance guidance concerning playing high school basketball this winter, the Diocese of Rockford said Thursday its six schools will not participate in this winter's basketball seasons.
The high schools affected are St. Edward in Elgin, Aurora Central Catholic, Marian Central in Woodstock, Rockford Boylan, Freeport Aquin and Sterling Newman Catholic.
"The recent decision by the Illinois High School Association to move forward with the 2020-'21 high school girls and boys basketball seasons beginning Nov. 16 without the support and endorsement of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education, and which would be in violation of the governor's order prohibiting basketball practice and games, leaves our diocesan high schools in a difficult and vulnerable position," Superintendent of Schools Michael M. Kagan wrote in a letter to the schools obtained by the Daily Herald.
"Therefore, we are informing you today our six central Catholic high schools will not be participating in the IHSA season 2020-'21."
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the IDPH moved basketball to a high-risk sport due to the potential for the spread of COVID-19, and suggested the season be moved to the spring.
Under current IDPH guidelines, basketball is a Level 1 sport, meaning there can be no contact practices and trainings only.
St. Edward athletic director P.J. White said the directive is for the winter season.
"If (the IHSA) moves basketball to spring, and it is deemed safe by the governor's office, the IDPH and the diocese, there's still a chance we could play then," White said.
Earlier this week, Community High School District 128, which includes Vernon Hills and Libertyville high schools, made the same decision.
"Based on the legal authority of the governor, IDPH (and) ISBE to make determinations regarding athletics and individual sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with district legal counsel opinion, the D128 administration recommended to the board D128 follow the governor, IDPH (and) ISBE guidelines regarding athletics, including determinations for winter sports and boys and girls basketball," D128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea wrote in an email to the Daily Herald.
"Our intention will be to play basketball when the governor, IDPH (and) ISBE informs us we can play."