On Thursday August 27th the Executive Director of the IESA sent out a message to all member school clarifying the position of the IESA in regards to face coverings at outdoor events. The IESA has now indicated that as long as people are socially distanced at events, face coverings are not mandatory. We would like to thank the Director of the IESA, Mr. Steve Endsley, and the Director of the IHSA, Mr. Craig Anderson, for their work to get this position clarified for all member schools.
Please read the statement in it's entirety below:
To All IESA Member Schools:
In my 32 years of tenure here at the IESA I do not think I have ever experienced anything that has been as controversial as the mandate we received from the IDPH that face coverings must be worn by fans and spectators at both indoor and outdoor events. With our baseball and softball seasons underway, the face covering mandate has been met with a backlash that has become legendary.
Much of the problem for you the schools has been the conflicting guidance given by the state of Illinois. We were given the mandate by IDPH. We shared with you that masks had to be worn by fans and spectators at all times outdoors and yet ISBE and DCEO put out a document called the All Sports Policy that said that masks did not have to be worn by fans and spectators when they were outside and they could maintain a safe social distance (pg. 8 of the document)
Over the last several weeks, Craig Anderson, the Executive Director of the IHSA, and I have emailed and texted numerous times to the Deputy Governor, ISBE, IDPH and others asking for clarification and answers as to why the two documents are different. We have explained how unfair it is to you the schools to have information that is completely opposite. Despite numerous attempts to get a response, we heard nothing on this issue. However, yesterday we finally received an email response. Basically, we were told that schools should follow the guidance given by DCEO. We were told that the DCEO guidance is the "floor" and that organizations like IESA and IHSA can be more stringent. IESA has no intention of making things more stringent.
Given the All Sports Policy is co-branded by ISBE and DCEO and given that on pg. 8 of that document it states that fans and spectators do not need to wear masks when outdoors and able to maintain safe social distance, my recommendation to all IESA member schools is that you follow the guidance given in this document. Of course you have the responsibility to insure your fans and spectators are maintaining safe social distance but as long as they are, then the document gives you the guidance you need regarding face coverings at outdoor events. In addition, you also have the responsibility to ensure your players and coaches are following the guidelines that have previously been sent.
I am sorry for the confusion we all have experienced and the time it has taken to sort this out for you. I wish we could have received answers sooner to alleviate the confusion. We are updating all of the information we have on our website to reflect this information we finally received.
Please contact me if you have any questions.