Taft HS suspends on-campus conditioning for students, will re-examine the issue in early August.
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School is suspending on-campus conditioning for student athletes out of an abundance of caution and plans to re-examine the issue in a couple of weeks when the school hopes there is clearer guidance on the matter from local and state agencies.
Students will continue to meet with coaches through online meetings and be encouraged to work out on their own, in accordance with the recommendations of their coaches.
Taft principal Mark Grishaber issued the following letter on July 15 to parents and athletes:
“While I believe strongly in the role of educational athletics in the development of young people, my first priority as the principal of Taft High School is the safety of our students and staff. Over the last 24-hours I have developed significant concerns regarding the IHSA’s Return to Play guidance, which I would like to share with you.
“First of all, since the IHSA allowed summer conditioning to resume on Monday, July 6, some schools in the Chicagoland area have experienced outbreaks of COVID-19. In response to these outbreaks, the Illinois High School Association executive director Craig Anderson held a press conference yesterday in which he stated that some of the recommendations by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and directives from the Illinois Department of Public Health have come into direct conflict with each other.
“The IHSA has come to understand that there needs to be a greater consistency between the guidelines for returning to learn and returning to interscholastic athletics. As a result, the IHSA has decided to let the IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education provide a consistent direction for schools moving forward.
“I cannot in good conscience allow summer conditioning to continue knowing that our students and coaches would be exposed to a significant health risk. In light of the press conference held by the IHSA yesterday and the increased COVID-19 cases nationwide and in Chicago, I believe that it is best to wait on updated guidance from IDPH and ISBE for direction on Return to Play plans for the 2020-21 school year.
“Effective Thursday, July 16, we will suspend summer conditioning at Taft High School until Aug. 3, at which point we will reevaluate the Return to Play guidance provided by the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools. I do not make this decision lightly and must put the health and well-being of our students and coaches first.”