Low-risk high school sports return for some regions, but not in suburbs
Gov. J.B. Pritzker loosened mitigations in some regions Friday, opening the door for low-risk sports to resume though not in suburban areas.
Region 1 (including DeKalb, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties), Region 2 (including La Salle, Kendall and Bureau counties) and Region 5 in far southern Illinois moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2 mitigations. Schools in those areas can begin playing sports including bowling, girls gymnastics, boys swimming, badminton and competitive cheerleading and dance.
All other regions remain Tier 3, although Pritzker said other regions are on course to go to Tier 2 in coming days.
There are no medium-risk Illinois High School Association sports in the winter, while boys and girls basketball are the lone high-risk winter sports.
"This is certainly positive news for three regions of the state, but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a statement. "High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy."
The IHSA board of directors is scheduled to meet Jan. 27. Anderson said he anticipates the board will set competition start dates for low-risk winter sports prior to that meeting.
"We all need to continue to take the mitigations seriously," he said. "Wear a mask. Socially distance. We need to get these other regions to Tier 2 and cannot risk having others backslide."