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CPS will allow students to participate in fall sports during remote learning

CPS Sports Director David Rosengard emailed coaches and athletic directors with the news on Wednesday night, clearing up some initial confusion.

Mather’s Anas Hirsi runs in a meet last year in River Park.
Mather’s Anas Hirsi runs in a meet last year in River Park.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools athletes will be allowed to participate in fall sports while remote learning.

The news was delivered to coaches, principals and athletic directors on Wednesday night, clearing up a day full of confusion after CPS CEO Janice Jackson said in a news conference that fall sports were unlikely.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Jackson held a news conference Wednesday morning to announce that CPS schools would go to all remote learning in the school year’s first quarter, which begins on Sept. 8.

Fall sports are scheduled to start almost a full month earlier. The Illinois High School Association allows practices to begin Monday. Under the IHSA’s revised sports calendar fall sports include boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross-country and girls swimming and diving.

The IHSA allows schools that are learning remotely to participate in sports. The final decision rests with each school district.

Early in the news conference, Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) said his children all play sports and “their seasons have been canceled.”

The IHSA hasn’t canceled any sports, but it has redone the sports calendar hoping that every sport will get at least some sort of season despite COVID-19. So that was a bit of a surprise.

Later in the news conference Jackson was asked about sports directly.

“I believe our sports programs are no longer practicing,” Jackson said. “I believe it is safe to say that is what the fall is going to look like.”

Many teams have been practicing. The IHSA has allowed socially distanced workouts for the past month.

“I haven’t received any notification that we needed to stop practicing,” Mather cross-country coach Joe Sullivan said. “We have been practicing since July 14 under the social-distancing guidance [CPS] sent out. We take every kid’s temperature and submit a form for them every day. The IHSA allows 20 contact days and today was our last day. We met like four days a week. We’ve been following that guidance.”

Jackson mentioned the IHSA’s revised sports calendar but ended with: “We need definitive guidance from [the Illinois State Board of Education] on [fall sports].’’

CPS Sports Director David Rosengard emailed out the final verdict nine hours later.

“While we continue to monitor the evolving public health situation in coordination with our public health partners, today’s announcement regarding remote learning did not impact our plans for summer conditioning or fall sports,” Rosengard wrote. “As we communicated last week, the district has adopted the

IHSA’s modified fall sports schedule, which includes a reduced number of non-contact sports. Those sports may proceed as scheduled under the guidelines and precautions we previously released pending any potential public health developments that require a change in our approach.”