(HOI) -- On June 26, the state of Illinois moved into "Phase 4" of Governor JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan. Now the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is joining them.
Originally calling it "Stage 2," IHSA officials agreed to switch their phrasing to be more in line with the state. IHSA had said they would not move into the next stage/phase until the state entered "Phase 4."
Now they have the green light from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and starting July 5, teams will be able to begin "Summer Contact Days."
“Safety remains at the forefront of everything that the IHSA is doing as we move into Phase 4 and beyond,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the SMAC and IDPH in recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional benefits for our student-athletes and coaches as they progress into training in a more traditional practice setting. Our focus now shifts to continuing to work with state leadership to determine how to provide the safest environment possible for fall sports.”
For the past few weeks teams have been allowed to gather in groups of 10 or less and could only do agility and speed training.
Now they're allowed to gather up to 50 players and coaches for practices, while actually being able to use a football and helmets. All equipment must be worn by only one player and should be cleaned frequently, no sharing is allowed.
Coaches and officials must wear masks, while players are encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing when possible. Athletes who did not participate in "Stage 1" or "Phase 3" are supposed to follow the fall reacclimatization schedule.
Now the final say belongs to each school district to approve their teams for practice.
For more on IHSA's move to "Phase 4" the guidelines are posted here.