Stage 1 guidelines for resuming high school sports released by IHSA
After nearly a week of waiting, Illinois high schools were presented Friday with the Illinois High School Association's Stage 1 plan to resume high sports.
Beginning Saturday, as a result of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, IHSA member schools will be allowed to open for voluntary strength and conditioning sessions.
School districts are being encouraged to work with their local health departments and local school administration will determine the permitted activities at their schools, with outdoor workouts being highly encouraged over indoor workouts to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had Illinois schools and their facilities closed since March 20.
The Return to Play Guidelines were developed by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the IHSA said.
"I commend the IHSA SMAC for crafting a plan that fits within the framework provided by state leadership, and refuses to compromise safety," said IHSA executive director Craig Anderson. "The IHSA Return to Play Guidelines offer some important first steps in allowing student-athletes to reacclimate both physically and mentally to athletics, but more importantly, they allow each school to assess their own individual situation and determine if and when they want to proceed."
Local coaches and administrators greeted the plan with enthusiasm.
"It's great news for kids and a big sigh of relief. It's going to be like a family reunion," said Batavia football coach Dennis Piron, who is a member of the SMAC committee. "I think the IHSA wanted to have this done a week ago but there were some holdups. The bottom line is it's here now and it's great news."
The main points of the guidelines include:
• Maintaining social distancing by being six feet apart.
• Masks shall be worn when social distance cannot be maintained.
• Groups are to be 10 or less, including the coach and medical personnel.
• Sessions can only include weightlifting, running and exercises designed to promote physical fitness.
• Sport-specific drills are not permitted, and sport-specific equipment may not be used.
School sponsored camps, clinics and open gyms are prohibited at this time, as is the use of locker rooms, shared water coolers with cups and water fountains.
"This is outstanding, it's phenomenal," said Antioch football coach Brian Glashagel. "Kids need to be together. Kids need some kind of organized conditioning, not just for their sports but for their mental and physical well-being.
"Even if it's six feet apart, working out and getting back to seeing friends is a great thing. It's healthy."
Glashagel said getting his athletes together under the Stage 1 guidelines won't be difficult.
"When we get our guys together, we won't even need equipment," he said. "It will be come over and let's work out. We'll flip some tires, do agility drills with cones. Pushups, situps, stadium steps. We'll mix it up and get them in shape. It'll be fun."
Naperville North athletic director Bob Quinn applauded the plan as well.
"This model should be something everyone should look at and everyone should employ. It's safe and it's thoughtful," said Quinn, who added he has submitted a detailed plan to District 203 officials that he and his athletic training staff created over the last few weeks.
"I'm not jumping in until I know we're doing things right," he added. "People are going to be watching us and what we're doing. We have to be safe and get this right."
The IHSA's Return to Play Guidelines will remain in place until the IHSA or the IDPH announce further guidelines. Under Pritzker's plan, Illinois is currently on course to enter Phase 4 on June 26.
"We will continue to seek input from our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, while following guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, on what potentially happens next in late June," said Anderson.
Daily Herald sports writers Kevin Schmit and Patricia Babcock McGraw contributed to this story.