According to several sources, the Illinois High School Association will announce Wednesday that the basketball season can start as scheduled. It’s a totally unexpected move that directly contradicts the guidelines Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health outlined on Tuesday. […]
“After diligent discussion, the Board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball,” IHSA spokesperson Matt Troha wrote in an email to athletic directors. “The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens. However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally.”
The email says the IHSA will “allow local school officials to make decisions related to participation.”
The disagreement between the IHSA and the governor/IDPH likely means the final decision will come down to the individual school districts. Theoretically the school districts would open themselves up to tremendous liability by playing against the guidelines of the governor and the IDPH.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov. Pritzker was asked about this today…
We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know. The IHSA may have their views on it but school districts know what the rules are and I think that it’s unfortunate, but they would be probably taking on legal liability if they went ahead and move beyond what the state has said is the mitigation standard.
*** UPDATE 2 *** From the state school superintendent: “Defying the state’s public health guidance opens schools up to liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities”…
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.
Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education