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CPS says all high school basketball players need to be fully vaccinated, then takes it back

This afternoon, Chicago Public Schools sent an email to athletic directors saying that all high school basketball players had to be fully vaccinated, effective immediately. Then hours later, it said the message was “not current policy.”

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez speaks during a press conference at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop, Friday morning, Nov. 19, 2021.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez speaks during a press conference at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop, Friday morning, Nov. 19, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

This afternoon Chicago Public Schools sent an email to athletic directors saying that all high school basketball players had to be fully vaccinated, effective immediately. Then hours later it said the message was “not current policy.”

It was a confusing few hours for coaches and athletic directors, many of whom don’t regularly check their CPS email when they are off for the holidays.

“In addition to the currently established eligibility requirements all players must be fully vaccinated (per CDC guidelines an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second vaccine shot),” CPS Athletic Program Administrator Tony McCoy wrote in the email to athletic directors on Thursday. “[The Office of Sports Administration] will be in touch with additional guidelines for submission of documentation as part of this updated sports participation eligibility requirement, but we wanted to provide this information to you so that you can plan accordingly.”

Hours later CPS spokesperson Joey Gelman texted the Sun-Times that “this is not current policy and a correction is being sent out to coaches now. Our current guidelines remain in place.”

Later Thursday night CPS sent an email to basketball coaches clarifying that “the previous communication stating that all student-athletes must be vaccinated in order to play is NOT current policy. What we wanted to reiterate is the current student-athlete travel policy which everyone received weeks ago regarding unvaccinated student-athletes.”

Most of the top Public League boys basketball teams are already fully vaccinated. That comes along with traveling around the country to play games.

Back in November, Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said his entire program was fully vaccinated. Simeon coach Robert Smith said today that his team is fully vaccinated.

Kenwood coach Mike Irvin says all but one player on his team is fully vaccinated.

“I’m fully vaccinated,” Irvin said. “This could be kind of a hard thing for some teams, coming up at the last second. But right now there are so many people coming up with COVID. I understand it.”

Curie coach Mike Oliver says his top eight players are all fully vaccinated. But he brings up an interesting point.

“I haven’t read the email yet but my phone is blowing up with people talking about it,” Oliver said. “That could be a real issue with some players and their religions. I don’t have a problem with it myself but it could be a problem for some people.”

The major holiday basketball tournaments all start up on Dec. 27 and 28th. Any player that isn’t fully vaccinated would have had to sit out the holiday tournaments and could have missed all of January while meeting the requirements.