Wheaton Academy coaches and athletic administration are working hard to promote the health and safety of our student-athletes. Over the last couple weeks, we have been required to modify our schedules to avoid conflicts with the IHSA and Governor’s guidelines. By following guidelines, we look forward to offering athletic competitions to student-athletes throughout the year. We ask for your patience as we navigate the situation.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSA), along with the Governor, updated the guidelines twice within the last two weeks. They modified original restrictions that had been in place during the summer and classified sports within certain risk areas. These modifications allow some sports to move forward with limitations while other sports have been moved to different seasons. Additional adjustments necessitate the construction of new schedules due to modifications in capacity limits and travel outside the region. We are digesting and interpreting these changes as quickly as possible to provide guidance and schedules for all our student-athletes and families.
In considering ways Wheaton Academy will move forward with this guidance, we are preparing for games, matches, and meets. Our coaches are developing plans that focus on healthy activity and relationship building in these early season practices to prepare for the upcoming season.
We know that physical activity provides social, emotional, and physical benefits, and we hope that participation in Wheaton Academy programs provides spiritual and character growth benefits as well. The start of athletics on August 10, even in a restricted environment, allows us to provide those opportunities to our student-athletes as they engage with their coaches and teammates.
Wheaton Academy’s primary goal this fall is to safely open campus for in-person teaching and learning. While other aspects of the school experience such as athletics are important, decisions made surrounding these experiences will always be made to provide the best opportunity for students and teachers to be on campus.
The situation surrounding athletics is fluid at best, and many changes can occur throughout the school year. I have prepared a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and answers based upon current information. Please join me in praying for our school, community, and leaders as we work together to navigate this time in our lives.
Wheaton Academy Athletic Director
IHSA states that schools should follow the recommendations and guidelines of their local government and health officials who will determine the way we return to sports safely.
The IHSA determines whether a championship series (i.e. playoffs) will be held at the end of the season and has stated that they will do so if possible. They have been willing to discuss other options for the end of the year if a state series is not possible.
IHSA has waived the requirement this week that schools must have on-campus learning to participate in athletics and activities. This waiver allows schools who choose to do only virtual learning to participate in athletics with approval by their school district.
The way each sport has been assessed regarding its level of risk was determined by the governor and All Sports Guidelines issued on July 29, 2020. I know these are confusing and can be debated, but we will abide by the guidelines. This guidance will be regularly updated as public health conditions change and new information becomes available.
The current guidelines restrict our ability to compete against schools outside our region or conference. Our region contains both DuPage and Kane Counties. This designation limits our ability to schedule non-conference opponents. Our scheduling ability will also be dependent on the availability of other schools who will be participating in athletics this fall. Although the public schools in our county may now participate in athletics even though they have virtual learning, nearly all have decided to delay the start of their athletics to properly prepare protocols and parameters. This delay will determine when they are eligible to start competing against other schools or if they will be able to compete. These schools are still in the process of determining the way to move forward, which might include a conference-only schedule. These circumstances all factor into our ability to schedule these schools for competitions.
Also, to hold games, officials must be available and willing to work. Some officials have chosen not to officiate this year due to COVID-19. The number of officials who have made this choice is unknown at this time but may limit the ability to play games.
No. As a member school of the IHSA, Wheaton Academy is restricted to the sports seasons as written in the IHSA by-laws. The IHSA would need to make changes or exceptions to its by-laws for sports to play out of season.
The athletic department has worked with each individual coaching staff to determine ways to conduct tryouts that can be done fairly and safely, given the restrictions in place.
The initial screening used to enter school at the beginning of the day will be used for athletics as well.
Athletes will be required to wear masks until they begin actively practicing. They should arrive at practice in a mask, and they will be required to wear a mask anytime they enter a building. Once at practice or games, athletes will no longer need to wear their masks unless six-foot distancing cannot be maintained while not participating (on the sideline, on the bench, etc.). Outdoor coaches will be required to wear masks anytime they are within six feet of another individual. Indoor coaches will always be required to wear a mask. When we compete at other schools, we will follow the same protocol, but we will comply with their mask requirements if they are stricter than our own.
The standard for COVID-19 exposure is within 6 feet for 15 minutes. Based upon that standard, we will allow athletes to utilize locker rooms for changing into practice gear. A “quick in and out” in five minutes or less will be the expectation, and coaches will monitor locker rooms to make sure athletes are complying. Masks must always be worn inside locker rooms.
The same contact tracing protocol used for the school will be used for athletics. Close contacts will be identified, and isolation and quarantine periods will be assigned as appropriate. The classroom and athletic fields are closely entwined as athletes are more importantly students. See the “Unite” plan for more information.
The same protocol used for the school will be used for athletics. See the “Unite” plan for more information.
We are currently evaluating our transportation options but plan to utilize our busses to transport athletes as we have done in the past. Seats will be assigned by coaches, and masks will be required to ride on the bus. Spacing individuals 6 feet or more apart on the bus will not be possible, but coaches will maximize spacing as much as possible. Students possibly will be able to transport themselves instead of riding the bus. We will provide more information on that possibility in the future.
Spectators will be limited due to the current guidelines and will need to abide by the posted guidelines at the event. Spectators will always be expected to maintain a 6-foot distance from those outside their household and to wear masks outdoors when they are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance. Indoor events will always require mask usage. Spectator attendance may be limited based on available seating. This information will be communicated before the event. Spectators will be expected to follow the same standards when attending competitions at other schools and comply with more strict standards if asked.
We are planning to enhance our live-streaming capabilities for events; however, many aspects of this undertaking—including available technology, personnel, and internet capabilities at the site—may restrict our ability to meet all these needs.