The Illinois High School Association voted on Wednesday to carry on with the high school basketball season despite a recent statewide surge in COVID-19. The decision comes just a day after the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) elevated basketball to a high-risk category.
According to IDPH guidelines, high-risk sports activities should be limited to no-contact practices and training. IHSA’s decision to start the season in defiance of public health guidelines leaves Illinois school districts to navigate the divide.
Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle addressed the issue at Wednesday’s school board meeting, saying the district needs to gather more information before making any decisions about the upcoming basketball season.
“Late this afternoon, Unit 5 learned of IHSA’s decision about the 2021 basketball season. At this point, we’ve not made any decisions," Weikle told the board. "Tomorrow I’m actually participating in a call with other area superintendents, and an administrator from IHSA to learn more about their stance. And so once we get more info, we’ll be sure to work with our athletic directors before making a final decision and releasing that information.”
Unit 5 spokesperson Dayna Brown declined to make Weikle available for further comment about the IHSA decision. “It’s really new,” said Brown, adding that she’d just received communication from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that she hadn't yet reviewed.
On Wednesday night, ISBE released a letter urging school administrators "to prioritize health and safety.”
Signed by Carmen Ayala, the state school superintendent, the letter warned that “defying the state’s public health guidance opens schools up to health liability and other ramifications that may negatively impact school communities.”