CPS sports camps allowed to resume under updated IHSA 'Return to Play' guidelines

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools' student athletes were allowed meet again as of Monday for the first time since March, but will remain hands-off for now.

The coronavirus put a hold on gatherings earlier this year, which included sports. Now, teams are preparing for socially distanced sports as the pandemic continues.

George Washington High School on the Far South Side held soccer conditioning along Lake Michigan, but it was not a traditional practice.

"[We're] keep our distance and mainly do drills that are spread apart with cones - to have the least amount of chance to get it," said Angel Avila, who plays soccer for George Washington High School.

CPS announced all school athletic teams must abide by the Illinois High School Associations "Return to Play" guidelines, which includes no physical contact among athletes, social distancing and temperature checks.



At the start of the newly reinstated practice, players signed waivers to be back on the field, knowing it's only conditioning and no one is allowed to share equipment.

"By the looks of it I didn't think we'd come back on time and play, and I was gonna be upset - you know, missing out on soccer," said Sergio Mendoza. "We had to take advantage of this opportunity, if it's gonna be our last time. I mean especially for me 'cause I'm a senior."

There is also a 50 person limit to all indoor activities, counting in spectators, as well as a push to do all activities outdoors if possible.

"If we suggest they have masks indoors, they probably should, but then the summertime is not a time we are out policing our schools," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.

The Illinois High School Association gave the green light to practice full contact, but quickly pivoted last week to revise its "Return to Play" rules barring any physical contact at summer practices after a spike in COVID-19 cases connected to athletes in Lake Zurich.

RELATED: IHSA revises Phase 4 guidelines due to increased COVID-19 cases on high school sports teams

Last week athletic camps at Lake Zurich District 95 were forced to shut down after several students tested positive for the virus. A mobile testing site was set up at the Lake County school over the weekend to allow free testing to anyone, regardless of symptoms.
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In response to a rising number of cases in the area, a mobile COVID-19 testing site will be stationed at Lake Zurich High School on Sunday, July 12 and July 19.



"This setback, in my opinion, has created some alarm to the schools. Now they say these provisions could take us into the fall and if that is the case, then volleyball, soccer [and] football just cannot be played under these limitations," Anderson said.

Despite this move forward, the question that still remains of whether there even be a season in the fall for high school athletes who play contact sports and if the school districts will want to take on the liability even with students or parents signing waivers?

"The best plans that I've seen around the country - not one can eliminate the risk of a COVID infection - so we have to be realistic on what we talk about," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

CPS has yet said if school will even resume in the fall, but Mayor Lightfoot has said the announcement is expected this week.
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