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IHSA says it will ‘defer’ to IDPH, ISBE Governor’s Office for “Return to Play” guidance

Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced Tuesday it will defer to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Governor’s Office on all “Return to Play” guidance moving forward.

“There is an unprecedented level of planning for this school year due to COVID-19, and we have to come to understand that there needs to be a greater consistency between the guidelines for returning to learn and returning to interscholastic athletics,” ISHA Executive Director Craig Anderson said Tuesday.

On Monday, a downstate lawyer filed a lawsuit at IHSA directed at the use of the new guidelines issued by the organization, calling the guidance an “illegal product of collusion” between government agencies.

“Some of the recommendations by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and directives from IDPH have come into direct conflict with each other, especially as it relates to the use of masks by student-athletes.  As a result, we feel it is important to let IDPH and ISBE provide a consistent direction for our membership moving forward.  We will wait on direction from these organizations for further guidance on Return to Play plans for the 2020-21 school year.” Anderson said in the statement.

IHSA regulations were amended after COVID-19 cases at high schools among athletes returning to practice began to spike last week.

“We still believe there is a path to conducting high school athletics in the fall, like the majority of the states surrounding Illinois plan to do,” Anderson said in the statement.  “To make that happen, it’s important that we allow IDPH, ISBE, and the Governor’s Office to take the lead on ensuring the safest and most consistent protocols.”

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