Several Peoria-area schools among 200 that signed letter to Pritzker imploring IHSA hoops to start as scheduled
PEORIA — Superintendents from more than 200 high schools and grade schools in Illinois have endorsed a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker imploring him to "allow our students to participate in extracurricular activities and interscholastic competition."
Area high schools among the signees include Bureau Valley, Deer-Creek Mackinaw, Delavan, Illinois Valley Central, Morton, Olympia, Pekin, Peoria Heights, Putnam County, Roanoke-Benson, Washington and Wethersfield.
Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have re-categorized basketball as a high-risk sport amid the COVID epidemic, and declared no basketball can be played this winter. The Illinois High School Association has defied that order and says its 2020-21 season will launch later this month, as scheduled.
The schools that signed on to the letter say they represent more than 200,000 students.
Excerpts from the letter,published by Springfield radio station WFMB-AM 1450:
"The pandemic has and continues to impact the social interactions of our students among their peers, adults, and various situations that help prepare them for what life will bring. Some of the negative effects that we are seeing as a result of these experiences being limited are depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, and loss of self.
"Despite the resilience of children, negative consequences are appearing and we fear this is the tip of the iceberg as these issues continue to rise.
"... School districts are creative. We continue to find ways to connect with students, teach them, and provide opportunities for participation, and to hold special events.
"... In most instances, positive cases found in schools come from outside of the school. ... When it comes to athletics, schools will provide a safer environment with procedures and accountability with more fidelity than a travel or club program every single time. Without the opportunities in our schools, students will play for unregulated clubs and travel teams while traveling out of state to do so.
" ... We as superintendents are calling on you to allow our students to participate in extracurricular activities and interscholastic competition. ... It is time to allow superintendents, athletic directors and coaches the opportunity to partner with IDPH to provide interscholastic competition in a safe environment.
"The physical, mental and academic well-being of our students are depending on us. Our students are depending on you."
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.