BLOOMINGTON – On Wednesday, the Illinois High School Association voted to approve guidance for a boys and girls basketball season.
Practices can potentially begin November 16 with competitions allowed as early as November 30 “within an Illinois COVID region or a conference.”
On Tuesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker had put basketball in jeopardy of not being played after announcing that the Illinois Department of Public Health changed basketball’s risk level from medium to high.
“The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely,” the IHSA said in a release on Wednesday.
“Mounting challenges, from increased mental health issues among our students to a shrinking calendar that limits our ability to move sport seasons this school year, were instrumental in this decision to move forward with basketball as scheduled. We see our students regularly leaving the state to play sports, or covertly continuing to play locally. Students can be better protected in the high school setting, and the Board remains steadfast that playing under IHSA rules and SMAC mitigation is the safest way to conduct athletics at this juncture.”
However, basketball is not out of the woods yet. In a letter from the Illinois State Board of Education, State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala fired a warning shot at superintendent and schools, saying, “we urge you to prioritize health and safety…defying the state’s public health guidance opens schools up to liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities.”