SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WREX) — The Illinois State Board of Education is urging school districts to not defy guidelines put into place by the state when it comes to winter sports.
On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration and the Illinois Department of Public Health released guidelines for winter sports, placing basketball at “high risk” — the same as wrestling and hockey. With those guidelines, basketball can be played at Level 1, meaning only no contact practices and training is allowed.
On Wednesday, the Illinois High School Association announced it will be moving ahead with the scheduled basketball season. The IHSA Board of Directors took action to allow girls and boys basketball practice to begin Nov. 16 and competition to begin Nov. 30 within an Illinois COVID region or a conference.
Governor Pritzker said on Wednesday that schools may be at liability if they play.
“We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know. IHSA may have their views of it but school districts know what the rules are and it’s unfortunate, but they would probably be taking on legal liability if they moved beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard,” Gov. Pritzker said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Now, the Illinois State Board of Education is urging schools to not defy the state’s guidelines. ISBE says they recognize the value of sports in students’ lives, but want people to prioritize health and safety.
Here’s the full letter ISBE sent out to schools:
The Illinois High School Association recently announced its intention to move forward with the regularly scheduled basketball season, in contradiction to public health guidance. As COVID-19 cases rise across the State, the importance of following public health guidance has only increased.
We recognize the value of sports in students’ lives and share your hope that students can return safely to play this school year. However, at this moment, we urge you to prioritize health and safety, and to returning the 1.76 million students currently learning remotely to the classroom.
The parents and families of Illinois have trusted us as leaders not only with the education of their children but with their health and safety while in our care. Public health experts have determined that basketball poses a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not currently safe to play.
Defying the state’s public health guidance opens schools up to liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities.
Our Illinois schools and communities are safer when we work together in support of public health standards. We are relying on superintendents and school leaders to make responsible choices to protect health and safety and to focus on bringing all of our students back to the classroom.
Illinois State Board of Education
The IHSA says it followed Sport Medicine Advisory Committee’s guidance in its decision. As a part of the plan, masks will be worn by all players, coaches and officials during play.