J. Thomas McNamara
The Illinois High School Association announced this afternoon (Wednesday, Nov. 12) that it is formally inviting representatives from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to attend the Nov. 19 IHSA Board meeting. Additionally, the IHSA will also seek representation at the meeting from the Illinois Principals Association (IPA), the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and a coalition of nearly 200 school superintendents who recently contacted the Governor regarding school sports during the 2020-21 school year.
“The Board hopes to create a dialogue and build a more collaborative relationship with all the entities involved with developing sports policy in our state as everyone tries to navigate the myriad issues caused by the pandemic,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The Board’s decision to move forward with the IHSA basketball season was not meant to be adversarial. It was rooted in a desire to receive more direct communication and data from our state partners. They hope all the groups will see the mutual benefit of increased discourse and be represented at the meeting on Nov. 19.”
The Board also announced that schools who plan to begin basketball practice Monday, Nov. 16, should adhere to the Level 1 mitigations from the IDPH All Sports Policy until at least Nov. 19. The Board cited rising COVID-19 cases in the state and a recent membership survey for this recommendation. The Board plans to provide more direction on basketball practice and games following the meeting on Nov. 19.
The Board also revealed that among the 546 schools who responded to the survey (IHSA has 813 member schools), nearly 300 IHSA schools do not plan to start basketball on Monday, Nov. 16, and another 212 schools remain unsure of their status.
“The Board recognizes the difficult decisions they have placed on member schools regarding basketball,” said Anderson. “With a limited number of schools set to begin their season on Monday, Nov. 16, they believe it is prudent to adhere to IDPH guidance as they work with state officials to gain greater clarity on the metrics and mitigations required to conduct certain high school sports throughout the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”
In a related matter, the Apollo Conference members voted Tuesday to opt out of the IHSA plans for practice and games to begin next week and at the end of the month. Mount Zion is one of the six members of the Apollo with the others being Charleston, Effingham, Lincoln, Mattoon and Taylorville.
I will have more on this in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.