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A week after canceling its fall sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Elementary School Association has reversed its decision and will hold a fall calendar.

In a press release issued Friday afternoon, the IESA said that after Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health released new guidelines earlier this week that put all four of its fall sports — baseball, softball, cross country and golf — as lower-risk sports and permit them to compete, a season was able to be safely held after all.

“As a result of these four sports being recategorized to lower risk and with interscholastic competitions being allowed, the IESA Board for Directors has approved a plan for the return of regular season contests in these activities and a limited state series,” the IESA said.

Practices will be permitted to begin Monday and contests can begin on Aug.15, a start date that also came as a result of this week’s new guidelines.

The postseason will end at the regional level for baseball, softball and cross country, while golf will be held to a sectional. The rest of the sports season will also have modified schedules, according to the release.

The late reversal that comes less than 72 hours before practices start Monday, and a week after the original starting date for softball, will provide a challenge to area coaches and athletic directors, but the challenge is a welcome one.

“This is certainly exciting news; I’ve already received many texts and emails of support and overall joy,” Bradley Central athletic director Reid Savoie said. “I’m very happy for our athletes to regain their chance to compete.

“However, we will not lose sight on ensuring that we follow every guideline provided to minimize every possible risk that we can for the health of our student-athletes, coaches, umpires and fans.”

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