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IHSA revises Phase 4 Return to Play guidelines

Less than a week after announcing its Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines, the IHSA sent revised guidelines to schools Thursday amid reports of athletes testing positive for COVID-19, including prohibiting contact drills and any physical contact among athletes.

This is a significant change from the initial Phase 4 guidelines that were approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and released Friday. Teams were allowed to begin practices under the Phase 4 guidelines Monday.

Additional changes include a requirement that all persons must always wear masks. The IHSA clarified later Thursday that athletes are not required to wear masks outside if socially distanced.

The IHSA also clarified that there must be a strict 50-person limit to any indoor activities.

The revisions will mean big changes for programs that had either already started or had scheduled summer camps in the coming weeks.
The IHSA released a brief statement Thursday afternoon citing "an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 among high school teams around the state" as the reason for the revisions.

"Due to an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 among high school teams around the state, the Illinois High School Association and Illinois Department of Public Health are jointly collaborating to modify the IHSA’s Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines," according to the statement.

"The modifications place greater restrictions on coaches and student-athletes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Important changes include limiting physical contact and an increased usage of masks. The former restricts schools from conducting contests against other schools in most sports, including 7-on-7 in football.

"The IHSA is working with IDPH to update the guidelines, and will send to its membership, the media, and post on the web as soon as they are approved."

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