IHSA talks contact days, fan guidelines

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The IHSA Board of Directors met Dec. 14 and while the resumption of high school sports remains in the air, an update on contact days was provided and guidelines for spectators were announced.

The IHSA permitted the allowance of contact days for out-of-season IHSA sports as soon as the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. JB Pritzker’s office lift Tier 3 mitigations. 

Contact days will be restricted to six hours per student-athlete per sport each week and can include practices, drills and intra-squad scrimmages allowable under IDPH guidance. 

Competition against any other school is prohibited.

“The board felt it was important for the physical and mental health of our student-athletes to resume contacts days for all out-of-season sports as soon IDPH deems it safe,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “Winter sports are not included, as we anticipate all low-risk winter sports will be able to begin their seasons at the same time. Basketball remains the outlier in the equation. We hope to be able to conduct basketball during the winter season, but if we cannot, basketball will be provided the same contact day opportunity as we determine where the basketball seasons fits best in the remainder of the school year.”

The IHSA also said it plans to meet with the IDPH and governor’s office prior to January to develop a time line for the resumption of winter sports. Following that meeting, the board will call a special meeting to finalize scheduling for the winter, spring, and summer seasons. 

“The board reiterated that they plan to do everything in their power to provide a season for every IHSA sport in 2020-21,” Anderson said. “There have been no cancellations of any sports or discussions about cancelling any sports thus far. The board appreciates the patience and flexibility of IHSA membership and remains optimistic – especially as vaccines begin to be administered – that we will return to conducting IHSA sports early in 2021.”

The IHSA also adopted spectator guidelines for winter sports that provide safety considerations for schools. These will apply to such sports as basketball, bowling and competitive cheer/dance.

Schools may determine if spectators are allowed at all or not, the IHSA said, and spectators must wear masks at all times. 

For basketball, spectators must be kept in two separate groups of 50 with home and away fans on opposite sides of the gym.

For bowling, spectators are limited to two per bowler.

For cheer/dance, spectators are allowed in one group of 50 per school at a time, after which they must exit so the next school’s fans can enter.

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