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Du Quoin suspends football practice for second time

Du Quoin Call staff report
updated: 7/15/2020 3:08 PM

Du Quoin Unit District 300 has suspended football team workouts for a second time, after one student-athlete reported Tuesday he was ill.

Superintendent Matt Hickam said that student has been tested for the coronavirus and is awaiting test results.

Football workouts had just resumed Tuesday (July 14) after a two-week hiatus prompted by one Du Quoin player testing positive for the coronavirus.

The student who reported being ill on Tuesday did not attend practice to avoid exposing other players to his illness, Hickam said. Coach Derek Beard found out about it when he made routine calls to players who missed the workout.

"Fortunately we had a student who did the right thing and was not (at practice)," the superintendent said.

Hickam said while there is no chance the student could have passed COVID-19 to other players at a football workout, officials believe he could have passed it to other students outside of school.

To be on the safe side, football workouts are canceled at least until the test results are back, Hickam said.

The other sports that have been given the green light to practice -- cross-country, cheerleading and dance team -- are being allowed to continue workouts.

Three student-athletes at Du Quoin High School so far have tested positive for COVID-19 -- one football player and two cheerleaders.

If the latest case also turns out to be positive for COVID, Hickam said, officials will discuss what to do. One option would be to cancel football practice entirely until there is some direction from the Illinois High School Association as to whether the IHSA intends to hold football playoffs this fall.

IHSA officials have said they anticipate making a ruling by the end of July.

"A lot of other schools have discontinued workouts until they know whether there is going to be a fall season," Hickam said. Still, that's not a done deal.

"Do we press forward? We might," he added.

Hickam said there is a high degree of frustration among high school coaches and athletic directors throughout Illinois.

The IHSA governs the state football playoffs but does not control the regular football season, which falls to the individual sports conferences. Still, if the IHSA cancels the postseason, a lot of conferences would see that as a signal to cancel the regular season, too. The IHSA also has put out a series of Return To Play guidelines for the preseason, that has allowed teams to have limited workouts and conditioning.

Meanwhile, the IHSA announced Tuesday it will defer to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education and the governor's office on all of its Return to Play guidelines moving forward.

The IHSA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee had previously developed its own Return to Play guidelines, which were then collaboratively amended, and then approved, by IDPH. The Phase 4 Return to Play guidelines were then amended at IDPH's request to include a greater emphasis on masks, and also eliminated scrimmages in sports that require physical contact.