Chicago Public Schools says that winter high school sports can begin on Thursday.

CPS Sports Director David Rosengard emailed schools on Tuesday afternoon that boys and girls bowling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheer and dance, boys and girls basketball and badminton can begin Thursday.

“Our top priority will continue to be keeping our staff, students, and their families healthy and safe,” Rosengard wrote. “As we did for our comprehensive health and safety plan for reopening schools, the district is working closely with our public health officials to ensure sports can be offered safely. Winter Sports Guidelines have been outlined and CPS is evaluating the option of voluntary COVID-19 testing for athletes.”

According to IHSA rules basketball teams will need to practice for seven days before they can play games, which means games could begin sometime next week.

“I’m so excited that our students can have this opportunity to play given that everyone else in the state is playing,” Young basketball coach Tyrone Slaughter said.

The news comes just one day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s comments at a news conference revealed she was unaware that the rest of the state was playing sports and CPS was not.

“That’s not really our call,” the mayor said. “Obviously, we’re going to follow the guidance of the Illinois State Board of Education, but also the Illinois High School Association. We’ve been anxiously waiting for further guidance from them. As an unrepentant sports fan myself, I’d like to see kids get back. There’s some loosening of the guidelines to let some non-contact sports happen. But . . . as far as I know, we haven’t seen anything that’s specific to, for example, high school basketball. So I’d like to see us move in that direction, but the state really controls the play, no pun intended, on that issue.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Jan. 22 that regions would be allowed to play basketball and other higher-risk sports in Phase 4 of the corona-virus protocols. On Jan. 27, the IHSA started the basketball season, and it announced Monday that CPS will be allowed to play basketball until March 20, one week longer than the rest of the state.

The newly-released basketball guidelines from CPS say there will be a nine-game conference schedule and a city playoff. It says that Sports Administration “will define the number of non-conference games based on recommendations by the IHSA.”

The IHSA currently has no limit on the number of games basketball teams can play.

The guidelines say boys and girls basketball games can be played Monday through Friday with sophomore games starting at 4:30 p.m. and varsity games at 7 p.m. CPS will allow teams to play any school within 30 miles, which is the limit set by the IHSA and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“I’m going to try and speak with as many people as I can to try and identify as many games as possible to have a productive season,” Slaughter said. “We feel good about the potential there of what we can have.”

The CPS basketball guidelines specify that a maximum of 50 people will be allowed at games and no spectators are allowed. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 20 school representatives per team, maximum 15 players, four coaches and one discretionary administrator.
  • Two security officers
  • Three game officials
  • Two score table workers
  • One announcer/streamer
  • One paramedic/trainer
  • One floater (custodial staff or school based administrator)

The guidelines do not mention if media will be allowed at games. The IHSA and IDPH currently allow media to attend games, but they also allow 50 spectators, which CPS will not.

Read the full CPS basketball guidelines here: 2020-21 BASKETBALL COVID-19 Guidelines.pdf