(8-24-21) On August 4, 2021, Governor Pritzker announced an update to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) All-Sports Policy that will require masks to be worn for all indoor IHSA athletic events regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. This mask directive for indoor athletic events applies to student-athletes, coaches, officials, game personnel, and fans.
The masking mandate applies to all IHSA fall sport practices and contests that are conducted indoors. Swimmers and divers do not have to wear masks while competing, but must adhere at all other times. The masking directive also applies to any winter or spring IHSA sports that may be conducting open gyms, general conditioning, or weightlifting indoors.
There are no restrictions to scheduling or spectator limitations as a result of the announcement, nor are there any changes to the IHSA calendar for any sports.
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson
“Today’s announcement will not deter us from our mission of safely offering high school student-athletes in Illinois the opportunity to participate in sports and activities. Illinois high school student-athletes and coaches have been resilient in dealing with myriad mitigations and unexpected changes over the past year. We hope all Illinoisans do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can quickly move beyond this and remove masks from indoor athletic events.”
The IHSA did not mention in their press release on the mask mandate what a school would face for non-compliance.
School systems who defy the mandate will not be allowed to compete Illinois High School Association (IHSA).
Illinois High School Association Associate Director Kurt Gibson
“If a school district doesn’t comply, they can lose their recognition status,” Gibson said. “If that happens, diplomas issued by the school district would not be recognized by the state board.”
“If a school loses its recognition from the ISBE, then they would also lose recognition from the IHSA and the IESA and would not be able to compete in any state athletics.”
“I am confident that each school district will find a solution. Schools will recognize that to lose recognition status would be a significantly negative outcome.”
SEE THE FULL LIST OF ILLINOIS SCHOOLS PLACED ON PROBATION HERE
The Illinois State Board of Education State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala – (complete letter to Superintendents)
“The executive order has the force of law. I understand the pressure some school and district leaders may be facing from community members, and I will provide you with every support to understand, communicate, and comply with the order.
“However, noncompliance is not an option. I will not compromise the health and safety of students or staff, nor will I risk even one child’s life.
“A [non-complying] district would first have its recognition status changed to ‘On Probation’ and would be asked to submit a corrective action plan. Failure to address the deficiencies would lead to nonrecognition, meaning total loss of access to state funding and loss of the school’s ability to engage in any Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association athletic competitions.”
IBSE spokesperson said-
“The district now has the opportunity to meet with ISBE and to submit a corrective action plan to address the deficiencies that are presenting a danger to students and staff. If the school district does not submit an approvable plan, it will lose recognition status, meaning total loss of access to state funding and the inability to participate in IHSA and IESA sports. The exact timeline is below.
- ISBE will reach out to the district to schedule a conference to discuss compliance issues with the district.
- Within 60 days of this conference, the district is required to submit a corrective plan to the Regional Superintendent of Schools and State Superintendent.
- ISBE will respond to the corrective plan within 15 days after receipt.
- If no plan is submitted, or if no approvable plan is received within 60 days after the conference, the State Board of Education may act to change the status of the district, or of the affected school or schools, to “Nonrecognized.”
Last Pritzker cancelled or postponed the start of high school sport causing a negative reaction among Illinois residents, this will continue to be an issue Pritzker will have to face in his re-election bid in 2022.