Masks required for all indoor high school sports: Here's what that means
It's mask up time again for high school sports conducted indoors.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced an update to the Illinois Department of Public Health All-Sports Policy Wednesday requiring masks to be worn for all indoor Illinois High School Association athletic events regardless of vaccination status. The directive applies to student-athletes, coaches, officials, game personnel, and fans, the IHSA said.
"We kind of thought this was coming with the increase in (COVID) cases," said Prospect girls volleyball coach Laura Gerber. "We prepped the girls at our camp and told them to expect this."
Even though masks were mandatory during the abbreviated spring season, which concluded in late April, Gerber's concern heading into the fall season is more about the climate than anything.
"The toughest part is it's 95 degrees and high humidity," she said. "Not all schools, including ours, have air conditioning, so that's going to make it tough."
Girls volleyball and girls swimming are the only sports that compete indoors in the fall season.
The mask mandate also applies to all fall sports practices conducted indoors, the IHSA said. "Swimmers and divers do not have to wear masks while competing, but must adhere at all other times," the news release stated. "The masking directive also applies to any winter or spring IHSA sports that may be conducting open gyms, general conditioning or weightlifting indoors."
There are no restrictions to scheduling or spectator limitations as a result of Wednesday's announcement, nor are there any changes to the IHSA calendar for any sports.
"(Wednesday's) announcement will not deter us from our mission of safely offering high school student-athletes in Illinois the opportunity to participate in sports and activities," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "Illinois high school student-athletes and coaches have been resilient in dealing with myriad mitigations and unexpected changes the past year. We hope all Illinoisans do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can quickly move beyond this and remove masks from indoor athletic events."
Until then, Gerber said her team and school will follow the rules.
"We'll follow what the CDC and the IDPH say," she said. "It's going to be tough but we will follow the rules."