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IHSA Meets with IDPH
On January 6, 2021 the IHSA Ececutive Director Craig Anderson, members of the IHSA staff, and the IESA staff met virtually with Illinois Department of Public Health Director (IDPH) Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz, and IDPH Chief of Staff Justin Dewitt. I wasn't invited to be a part of this meeting, but wanted to give you a summary of what occured.
The IHSA and IESA leadership used the meeting to reintroduce recommended mitigaitons from the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), as well as to seek understanding on any preliminary insight the IDPH may have related to the return of interscholastic sports. The IHSA also asked IDPH leadership to review the risk levels of all remaining sports, with consideration for lowering some sports from their current risk levels. High School and Jr. High School students are already leaving or participating out-of-state, participating for their school teams would be the safest venue for participation.
At the time of this meeting, the IDPH has made no changes to the current COVID-19 mitigation tier status. Illinois remains in Tier 3 status until at least January 15. As a result, IHSA, IESA, and SIJHSAA sports remain on pause. The meeting didn't produce any type of timeline when interscholastic games would be allowed to start. They were told that if any region of the state meets the guidelines to move to Tier 2 mitigations, they may do so starting January 15. Please keep in mind that Tier 2 mitigations do not allow for contests to be played. Volleyball teams would be allowed to practice as a medium risk sport, but games would not be allowed. If basketball is not moved from high risk to at least medium risk, basketball teams will not be allowed practice regardless of the Tier status. If a given region does not move to Tier 2 and remains in Tier 3, then the sports for the schools in those regions will remain paused.
For a given region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, a region must experience less than 12 percent test positivity rate for three consecutive days and greater than 20 percent available intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital bed availability, and declining COVID hospitalizations in 7 out of the last 10 days. The IDPH stressed - Keep your community members informed as to what it will take to move to Tier 2 and how important it is to follow all COVID safety protocols so we can have a chance to resume our sport season. If the positivity rate continues to drop and would get below 6.5% we could be looking at a return to Phase 4 which could mean contests would be allowed.
I felt that SIJHSAA schools should be aware of this meeting and what took place. The IHSA will conduct its Executive Directors Board Meeting on January 13, 2021-8:30 am. I am invited to listen in and will report back to member schools.
The SIJHSAA Board of Control will meet virtually on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 2pm to discuss the status of winter sports heading into January.
The SIJHSAA Board of Control met today (11-19-20) to discuss the status of winter and spring sports. The SIJHSAA Board of Control recognizes that this week's announcements on November 17, 2020 by Governor Pritzker will temporarily pause the SIJHSAA winter sport season. We remain optimistic that these mitigations, coupled with the emergence of a vaccine, will aid in creating participation opportunities in the new year for SIJHSAA student-athletes in the winter and spring. The Board of Control voted to put all SIJHSAA Sport Activities on pause complying with the Governor's Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations. The SIJHSAA administration will closely follow COVID related mitigations released by the Illinois Department of Public Health. If any changes occur, the SIJHSAA administration will be in contact with its member schools, whether it be reduced mitigaitons or strenthened mitigations. This means no open gyms, practices, or contests may be held until further notice. The SIJHSAA Board of Control will meet again on December 22, 2020 to review the status of upcoming winter and spring sports.
The SIJHSAA Board of Control held a special meeting today, mainly dealing with the girls and boys basketball situation. As you know the IDPH has moved basketball to a higher risk sport in the Governor's All Sports Policy. This change by the IDPH will not enable schools to participate in this sport at the present time. Governor Pritzker has stated that basketball isn't canceled, its postponed and moved to the spring. In turn the Illinois High School Association has basically stated that the IDPH has ignored the SMAC-IHSA Sport Medicine Committee's Return To Play Guidelines for basketball.
The IHSA has announced that they will follow the SMAC Basktball Guidelines and will not follow the recommendation of the Governor, IDPH, and ISBE. With this situation that is going on between the IHSA and the governor-IDPH-ISBE, the SIJHSAA Board of Control met to give some guidance to its member schools on where we are going with basketball and upcoming winter sports.
A motion was made to postpone all SIJHSAA sports until approved IDPH Return To Play Guidelines are in place. The main concern of the SIJHSAA Board of Control was liability issues that could occur dealing with association insurance and liability issues that could arise for member schools, if participating in violation of IDPH guidelines.
Thus, at this point girls and boys basketball practices set to start on November 16 and contests slated to start on November 30 are presently postponed. If circumstances change, the SIJHSAA will notify member schools of updated information for basketball and other winter sports.
The SIJHSAA will monitor what is occuring concerning basketball and other winter sport activities. The Board of Control will meet again on November 19, 2020 to review these issues.