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IHSA revises return-to-play rules, won’t allow any physical contact at summer practices

The changes to Phase 4 rules were announced Thursday afternoon in an email sent to school administrators.

Notre Dame’s coaching staff looks on during practice on July 6.
Notre Dame’s coaching staff looks on during practice on July 6.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The Illinois High School Association made major changes to its Phase 4 return-to-play plan Thursday.

The guidelines no longer allow any physical contact at practices. Athletes and coaches are to wear masks at all times unless they are socially distancing outside, and scrimmages are banned in basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.

The changes are ‘‘due to an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 among high school teams around the state,’’ according to the IHSA.

Coaches and athletic directors had been creating basketball leagues and seven-on-seven football leagues during the last week. Those now will be canceled.

The Illinois Department of Public Health approved the IHSA’s Phase 4 plan last week, and many schools began practices Monday under the initial rules, which allowed physical contact.

Notre Dame’s Sonny Williams practices on July 6, 2020.
Notre Dame’s Sonny Williams practices on July 6, 2020.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The IHSA has allowed teams to participate in non-sport-specific conditioning since early June. But Chicago Public Schools hasn’t allowed its teams to assemble for any reason. That is changing.

CPS has told schools they can begin practices without physical contact Monday. Each student and coach will be provided with two masks. Coaches will be allowed 20 contact days between Monday and Aug. 9.

Perspectives football player Jaden Stewart said he was ‘‘amazed and happy’’ to get the news.

CPS has told schools to abide by the IHSA’s return-to-play guidelines. The majority of activities should take place outdoors. Social distancing and daily temperature checks are mandatory.

‘‘We have been patient, but Monday will be a wonderful day,’’ Kenwood football coach Sinque Turner said. ‘‘I understand why it was going slow with CPS, just because of the size of the district. It wouldn’t look right if we started too early without a plan and had a bunch of kids infected. They did a real good job being patient. That’s the reason Illinois is doing so well as a state.’’

Turner said he has been impressed with how his athletes responded to the delay.

‘‘They’ve been really driven,’’ Turner said. ‘‘They don’t want to disappoint. They haven’t been sitting on the couch getting fat. They haven’t used the delay as an excuse. They took advantage of the parks being opened up to work out on their own.’’’

Private high schools in Chicago have been working out for more than a month.

‘‘Phillips [plays] Mount Carmel [in] Week 2, and those schools aren’t too far apart,’’ Young football coach Dan Finger said. ‘‘So having different practice rules doesn’t seem fair.’’