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IHSA Leaves Return-to-Play Guidelines Up to Other State Agencies

July 15, 2020 / Athletic Administration
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released a statement earlier this week announcing that it will “defer to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Governor’s Office on all of its Return To Play Guidelines moving forward.”

The decision came a day after a St. Louis-area attorney, Thomas DeVore, filed a preliminary injunction against the IHSA and the Hillsboro School District, according to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times.

ihsaDeVore claims that IHSA’s return-to-play plan, which involves masks and social distancing, will cause “immediate and irreparable harm” to the rights of student-athletes. DeVore’s injunction alleges the rules are “the illegal product of collusion between state agencies, [IHSA executive director Craig] Anderson and the IHSA,” according to the Sun-Times.

While the decision from the IHSA will remove the likelihood of future legal action over the reopening of high school athletics, will it expedite the process?

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Until the organization’s decision, the IHSA’s return-to-play guidelines had to be approved by the IDPH, according to the Sun-Times. Currently, teams in Illinois are able to conduct limited workouts in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening guidelines.

‘‘There is an unprecedented level of planning for this school year due to COVID-19, and we have come to understand that there needs to be a greater consistency between the guidelines for returning to learn and returning to interscholastic athletics,’’ Anderson said in the statement. ‘‘Some of the recommendations by [the IHSA] 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.’’

To read the full story from the Chicago Sun-Times on the IHSA handing over its decision-making on reopening athletics to other state agencies, click here