Last week, the IHSA and the IESA both announced the resumption of winter sports for Illinois student-athletes. We know that there is a lot of excitement that goes with this announcement and we are happy for our students that they finally get an opportunity to return to competition.
At last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to prohibit spectators from attending our home indoor events. This was a difficult decision for the Board, as we all recognize the role that athletics plays in the lives of our students and families.
Each school district will make a determination for its community and parents based on its unique circumstances. We may have opponents who will allow spectators, and we will do our best to communicate that with our athletes.
There were several facts that led the Board to reach its decision.
We know that athletes, officials, coaches and game support personnel will need to wear masks at all times. Athletes who are not in the game will need to spread out in the bleachers. Scorekeepers will also have to do the same. This will require the use of one set of bleachers.
The organizing bodies have stated that 50 spectators can be allowed to attend a contest. The board determined that it would be difficult to determine an equitable process of determining who would be allowed to enter the building. If a district does allow spectators, symptom screening and records would need to be kept to facilitate contact tracing. Spectators would have to be monitored to ensure that social distancing is enforced. Some districts may opt to empty the gym between grade level games or between JV and Varsity games. This increases the demand for record keeping and would require sanitation of spectator seating areas between contests.
The district will rely on one gym to host most, if not all, of our home events. We need to take the necessary steps to maintain the most efficient way of keeping the facility clean and ready for the next event or practice.
During the school day, we are still limited to no more than 50 people in a space. If spectators are allowed in the gym, we would clearly have more than that number.
Since the Board’s decision, we have also learned that guidance from the IDPH and ISBE indicates that spectators should be at least 30 feet from participants. We cannot do that in our gyms.
While we know this decision may disappoint our families, our goal is to ensure that our student athletes get to play and practice in the safest way possible. In the end, that is the most important fact--our kids get to play.
The district will broadcast all of our home events through the Illini Central Sports Network. In the near future, we will share information that details how families and fans can log in to watch the broadcast. Most of our opponents will be doing the same. Again, we will do our best to provide you with the information that will allow you to watch the game.
There is little doubt that the situation surrounding athletics will remain fluid in the months ahead. We ask for your continued patience and support as we often receive information that is changed or that requires quick decision making.