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Junior high sports season in holding pattern, IESA waits for clarity from the state

Facing the same restrictions as the high school athletics, the Illinois Elementary School Association, board of directors released a statement after yesterday's video conference meeting concerning the prospect of junior high school sports this fall.

The association has submitted questions to the Illinois Department of Public Health and Governor J.B. Pritzker's office seeking clarification on a number of issues in current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A reply from the two state entities tasked with public safety during the current pathogenic outbreak has yet to be delivered to the organization that oversees 15 sports and activities for the 7th and 8th grade levels.

The state's response will determine if there will indeed be a scholastic sports season or how the individual sports seasons could be modified by the IESA to allow for competitive athletics starting sometime next month when students are slated to return to instruction either in person or via online as students in Illinois underwent in March of this year.

Here is the full statement released on the IESA website:

On Wednesday, July 15, the IESA Board of Directors met via a Zoom conference call to discuss the possibility/practicality of holding IESA activities in the 2020-21 school year and specifically the fall activities of golf, softball, baseball, cross-country, and girls basketball. Also included on the call was the Executive Director of the IHSA, Mr. Craig Anderson.

As included in the email from the IESA Executive Director to the IESA membership that was sent on Tuesday, July 14, the IESA has sent several emails to the Governor's Office and Illinois Department of Public Health seeking guidance regarding interscholastic activity participation and health and safety requirements. The answers that we receive from these agencies will have a significant impact on the type of activity and/or format of the activity that we are able to offer during this school year. To date, we have not received answers to our inquiries.

Our goal is to return to play but as an education-based organization, we must always take into account the health, safety, and well-being of students. Because of the ever-changing landscape, the IESA Board simply felt that until we receive answers, it would not be prudent at this time to make a decision to cancel fall activities knowing that a decision like that is devastating to the very students and schools IESA serves. An update on the status of fall activities will be sent to the membership no later than July 24.

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