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IHSA To 'Pause' Winter Sports Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Winter sports for the state's high school students will be paused because of pandemic concerns.

To comply with mitigation efforts from Governor JB Pritzker that start on Friday November 20, the IHSA Board issued guidance "to pause all IHSA winter sports and activities by November 20."

The Illinois High School Association met Thursday to discuss the decision, citing Pritzker's recommendations because of spiking coronavirus cases throughout the state. On Tuesday, Pritzker said all youth indoor sports should be put on hold. The IHSA suspended the few winter sports that were being played until further notice.

Some of those sports for boys include swimming and diving, wrestling, basketball  and bowling. For girls, the list includes bowling, competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, gymnastics and basketball.

"All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor's mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible."

According to the board, the IHSA will revisit the situation on December 2 and once again on December 14 during its regularly scheduled board meeting.

The IHSA listed some clarifications to its schools:

Winter Season Start Date: Given the timing of the Governor's new mitigations, November 16 will not be recognized as the start date of the winter season, regardless of whether winter sport teams conducted any official tryouts or practices. A new start date will be established for each sport once winter sports can be conducted again.

Conditioning & Weight Training: Conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused. Local schools will decide if conditioning and weight training programs that are a part of their academic curriculums continue or are ceased.

Open Gyms: Are paused and cannot be conducted at this time.

Outdoor Workouts: Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

One-on-One Skill Work: Per Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only, but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.

Activities: Practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually.

Non-School Participation: All sports organizations in the state, school or non-school, have been directed to abide by the Governor's mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.

On Thursday Pritzker again urged people to stay at home as much as possible, except for essential activities like shopping for groceries, going to work or school, or visiting the doctor.

"This is a temporary thing that we can do to reduce the spread of this virus in our communities," he said.

The governor's latest plea for people to stay at home amid a resurgence of the pandemic comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, as well as 168 additional deaths. It was the 13th time in the past two weeks Illinois has reported more than 10,000 new virus cases, and the most deaths reported in a single day since mid-May, and the third most deaths reported in a single day during the entire pandemic.

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