IDPH issues new sports guidelines; all sports allowed for regions in Phase 4
Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Friday all regions in Illinois that reach Phase 4 of COVID-19 mitigations can play all high school sports, including basketball and football.
The suburban regions, as of Friday, are still in Tier 2 mitigations, but the suburban Cook County region is on track to move to Tier 1 Saturday. The next move forward from Tier 1 is Phase 4. The regions covering Kane, DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties are Tier 2, meaning those sports can play within their conference or within their region. Intra-league play as well as state or league-championship games/meets are also allowed for low-risk sports only.
The IDPH has released new sports safety guidelines, which state regions in Phase 4 may play lower-risk sports at level 4, which allows for tournaments, nonconference play, out-of-state play and championship games. Those winter sports include bowling, girls gymnastics, girls badminton, boys swimming, cheerleading and dance. Moderate-risk sports competing outdoors in Phase 4 also received expanded scheduling opportunities, including tournaments and out-of-state contests, while moderate-risk indoor sports can play at level 3. Volleyball and soccer are considered moderate-risk sports.
"These updates exemplify the need for our board of directors to set season dates for the remainder of the school year when they meet again this Wednesday, as well as the continued challenges of doing so with different allowances around the state," Illinois High School Association executive director Craig Anderson said in an emailed statement.
Anderson's statement also stressed that masks must be worn at all times in practice and competition.
Currently, Region 8 (Kane and DuPage) and Region 9 (Lake and McHenry) have not yet reached the necessary metrics to advance to Tier 1. Current metrics suggest each region could reach Phase 4 late next week, if trends continue.
"At least now we know what the target is," said Barrington athletic director Mike Obsuszt. "Now we have to continue to do the things we need to do to reach the target.
"Hopefully we'll get an updated schedule Wednesday."
Anderson's statement also clarified current guidelines for spectators.
"In Phase 4 regions, you can have a maximum of 50 spectators; in Tier 1 regions, you can have a maximum of 25 spectators; in Tier 2 regions, you cannot have spectators," the statement read.