By Staff reports
Daily Southtown | Jan 07
Let the dialogue begin. Maybe games will follow.
The Illinois High School Association, represented by executive director Craig Anderson and members of his staff, held a virtual meeting Wednesday night with Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the IDPH, and Justin DeWitt, the chief of staff for the IDPH, also were present for the meeting, which also included the Illinois Elementary School Association.
“We appreciate the dialogue with state leadership and believe it is crucial that it continue moving forward,” Anderson said. “We understand that the state faces shifting priorities as it continues to fight the pandemic while also beginning the distribution of the vaccine.
“There was no expectation that a single meeting would resolve all our questions. However, we believe that collaboration with state officials is vital for the IHSA to be able to develop an informed plan for the 300,000-plus student-athletes and over 800 high schools that encompass the association.”
The IHSA reintroduced mitigations recommended by its sports medicine advisory committee and also asked the IDPH to review the risk levels assigned to all remaining sports, hoping to lower some sports from their current levels.
“We believe that there is both data and science that validates the idea that we can safely conduct sports,” Anderson said. “We have seen it work in other states and believe it can in Illinois if we utilize the mitigations provided by IDPH and the IHSA SMAC.
“Students are already leaving or participating out-of-state on weekends. We believe that competing for their high school remains the safest venue for participation.”
Winter sports for the IHSA were supposed to begin in late November but have been on pause. Low-risk sports may not return until Gov. J.B. Pritzker moves the state to phase four. Fall sports that didn’t get played and then spring sports were to follow with seasons.
The IHSA’s board of directors is scheduled to meet again Wednesday.
“Our board of directors is going to have difficult decisions to make regarding the seasons for medium- and high-risk sports very soon,” Anderson said. “With no specific IDPH timeline or statistical bench marks established for the return of sports and the calendar shrinking, putting together a puzzle that allows for all sports to be played becomes increasingly improbable.
“We continue to urge all residents of our state to be diligent in their efforts to adhere to safety guidelines as a lower positivity rate remains the key to athletics returning.”
Original article: chicagotribune.com