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J. Thomas McNamara

     Good news prep football practices resume Monday.
     Maroa-Forsyth’s Josh Jostes was the first to respond the Decatur Tribune request of the coaches it covers for comment, writing, “Next much needed step for return in Fall. Can’t wait to start Monday.”
He concluded, “Stay Positive.”
     The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced late this afternoon Friday (July 3) that its Stage 2 Return To Play Guidelines have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and could be instituted by IHSA schools Monday, July 5.
The IHSA also announced that it will no longer reference the guidelines as the Stage 2 Return To Play Guidelines, and will instead will refer to them as the Phase 4 Return to Play Guidelines, matching the verbiage used by the state in its Restore Illinois plan. The IHSA Stage 1 Return To Play Guidelines, which were implemented on June 5, will now be referred to as the Phase 3 Return To Play Guidelines for the same reason.
     “Safety remains at the forefront of everything that the IHSA is doing as we move into Phase 4 and beyond,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee SMAC and IDPH in recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional benefits for our student-athletes and coaches as they progress into training in a more traditional practice setting. Our focus now shifts to continuing to work with state leadership to determine how to provide the safest environment possible for fall sports.”
     A draft of the Phase 4 Return to Play Guidelines, which were developed by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, was sent to IHSA member schools for preparatory purposes following approval by the IHSA Board of Directors on June 15. The IHSA then worked with IDPH to get approval on the Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines. The Phase 4 Guidelines optimize safety while allowing IHSA teams to gather in groups of 50 coaches and students or less to conduct practices or contests.
     IHSA coaches can conduct team activities on 20 contact days between June 30 and August 9. An IHSA member high school may not conduct team activities under the Phase 4 Return to Play Guidelines unless they have local school district approval, and are located in a Health Region that is currently in Phase 4 (or better) under the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan.
Fans do not traditionally attend contests conducted under the summer contact day format, however, if a host school allows fans to attend, they will be limited to 20% capacity of their facility or less, based on the policy of the host school.
     I will have more on this obviously late breaking holiday weekend story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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