IHSA Phase 4 guidelines released, sports is almost back

Today, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced that its Stage 2 Return To Play Guidelines have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). That's welcome news for high school athletes, coaches and fans the state enters the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Starting Sunday, teams may gather in groups of 50 or less for practices and games. Coaches can conduct team activities on 20 contact days backdated to between June 30 and Aug. 9. Those team activities, though, cannot resume unless the teams have approval from the local school district.

Prep sports has been essentially on hold since March 12, when the IHSA canceled the Class 1A/2A Boys Basketball State Finals less than 24 hours before the opening semifinal at the Peoria Civic Center.

"Safety remains at the forefront of everything that the IHSA is doing as we move into Phase 4 and beyond," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the SMAC and IDPH in recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional benefits for our student-athletes and coaches as they progress into training in a more traditional practice setting. Our focus now shifts to continuing to work with state leadership to determine how to provide the safest environment possible for fall sports."

The IHSA also announced that it will no longer reference the guidelines as the Stage 2 Return To Play Guidelines, and will instead will refer to them as the Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines, matching the verbiage used by the state in its Restore Illinois plan. The IHSA Stage 1 Return To Play Guidelines, which were implemented on June 5, will now be referred to as the Phase 3 Return To Play Guidelines for the same reason.

Student-athletes will be limited to five hours of participation per day, and many of the same limitations from previous phases will apply. All student-athletes and coaches should be screened before a workout, practice or event for COVID-19 symptoms. Schools are required to maintain a daily record of every student-athlete who plays or works out in the event contact tracing is needed to quarantine players possibly exposed to the Coronavirus.

All coaches and volunteers must wear a mask while at practice or games. The guidelines also state that participants should be encouraged to wear a mask if feasible for the sport.

Officials must wear a mask except when ACTIVELY exercising as part of their officiating duties and use an electronic whistle. For safety reasons, mouth whistles and blow horns are not allowed. Officials are encouraged to be masked whenever feasible to decrease risk of transmission.

If a school host an event like a 7-on-7 football competition and allows fans to attend, only 20% capacity of their facility or less, based on the policy of the host school. The facility must allow for social distancing of student-athletes, coaches and spectators, and 30-foot distancing is maintained between groups.

St. Joseph-Ogden High School 2024 baseball seniors