Illinois high school bans all winter sports, activities due to 17 new COVID-19 cases

"We understand that this announcement is disappointing and frustrating, especially as winter extra-curricular activities were just getting under way," said the school superintendent

Updated: December 6, 2021 - 12:48pm

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A high school serving the Oak Park and River Forest areas of Illinois has banned student participation in winter sports and extracurricular activities citing "17 new COVID-19 cases."

School Superintendent Gregory Johnson made the announcement Friday evening in an email send to hundreds of students that arrived in inboxes as the boys' basketball team defeated a cross-town rival. Effective Saturday, however, the boys would no longer be allowed to play or practice. 

"We understand that this announcement is disappointing and frustrating, especially as winter extra-curricular activities were just getting under way. However, protecting the health and safety of our entire community is of the utmost priority," Johnson said. "As a result, we are working to gather more information, thoroughly determine the best course of action for the next two weeks and get answers to the many questions that this action will generate."

The decision was a result of an order by the Village of Oak Park Department of Public Health Director Theresa D. Chapple-McGruder, whose pandemic "emergency regulatory power" was recently extended by the village board. 

School activities including SAT testing and the upcoming winter concert have been canceled, according to the school calendar.

As of Friday, the World Health Organization had determined that the Omicron variant of the virus is in 38 countries, including the U.S., and that it produces "extremely mild symptoms," as compared to prior strains. 

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