GAME ON: All sports allowed to play in Phase 4

Sports

WCIA — High school sports are back.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced all sports are getting the green light to play and compete, in Phase 4 regions. Currently nearly the entire WCIA 3 viewing area is in Phase 4, with Regions 3 and 6. They are two out of the three Regions across the state in Phase 4, as well as Phase 5 in southern Illinois.

“All sports will be allowed to play at the intra-conference region or league levels,” Ezike said during a regularly scheduled COVID-19 press conference on Friday. “I hope that we’ll all use the experience that we have garnered as we go forward so that we don’t in fact see another surge and go back into higher levels of mitigation that would suspend these levels of play.”

The new guidelines outlined Friday lay out details as to what level of competition will be allowed, per region and per sport. High risk sports such as football, basketball and wrestling will be able to hold intra-conference or intra-EMS competition but will not be able to hold a state tournament for now. Medium risk outdoor sports, such as soccer, will be able to compete and hold a state tournament, while medium risk indoor sports like volleyball, will not be able to play at the state level. All low risk sports, including baseball, softball and track and field, are going to be able to play for a state championship.

The IHSA met with government officials, including the IDPH on Friday morning, before the COVID-19 press conference. Youth and high school sports have been on pause since November 20, when the IHSA agreed to comply with Gov. Pritzker and IDPH mitigations to limit the spread of COVID-19. In the fall, several low-risk sports were allowed to compete, including golf, cross country, girls’ swimming and diving and girls’ tennis but all other sports did not get the chance to play games.

Read the entire updated guidance on the IDPH website here: http://dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/All%20Sports%20Policy%20-%20Updated%20Jan.%2021%2C%202021.pdf

All athletes will have to wear masks when practicing and competing, when they’re not able to maintain six feet of social distancing. This means sports like basketball and football will require masks at all times.

Schedules and timelines for competition are expected to be released next week, after the IHSA Board of Directors meets at its regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 27.

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