St. Charles North and St. Charles East athletic directors Dan Dolney and Michael Sommerfeld announced on Thursday that St. Charles Public School District 303 has decided to delay participation in the high school basketball season as presently constructed by the Illinois High School Association.

In a joint release via St. Charles East Athletics on behalf of the district, reasons for the "difficult" decision pertain to "apparent lack of communication and agreement" by the IHSA and the state.

The decision was also made with "thoughtful discussions" between DuKane Conference superintendents, principals, and athletic directors over the past two weeks, according to the release.

Both athletics programs have tentatively scheduled basketball practices to begin on Dec. 1, but that hinges on the results of an upcoming Nov. 19 IHSA meeting where it claims it has invited members of Pritzker's office and more to participate.

Schools can hold non-mandatory open gyms, which will require following the health guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health. Masks will be mandatory and students will need to provide a COVID-19 self-certification form for participation. There will also be no contact during the open gyms.

The IHSA, Gov. Prizker and the IDPH have engaged in a public disagreement over the last few weeks weeks regarding the status of the basketball season. One day after Pritzker and the IDPH announced an indefinite hold on the season, the IHSA Board of Directors voted to move forward with the season as scheduled, allowing schools to begin practices as soon as Nov. 16 and games by Nov. 30.

That move has been met with reluctance by several public school districts in the subsequent weeks. In a survey released by the IHSA on Wednesday, nearly 300 of the 546 responses from member schools said they do not plan on playing basketball by Nov. 16.Another 212 schools were unsure of their status.

Some private high schools have made plans to play basketball in Indiana, but several have not made public decisions.

ISBE has also recommended against the start of the basketball season as scheduled.

"This decision by the IHSA puts Illinois high schools in the difficult position of choosing to contradict the guidelines of the IDPH in order to participate in basketball," the D303 release stated.

"D303 schools have closely followed and implemented IDPH guidelines to provide the safest possible environments in our schools. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, schools cannot then make decisions that potentially expose districts to liability by contradicting IDPH guidelines."

As the status of their basketball seasons continue to fluctuate, St. Charles North boys varsity basketball coach Tom Poulin told the Chronicle in October he'll "control what I can control."

"And, that is going to be to continue to prepare for a season and really remain hopeful that it comes. I like to be positive and not be negative about it," Poulin said.

"I want to be ready for a season when it comes, whenever it's November, December, January, whatever it is," Poulin continued. "I want to be ready and I want the guys to be ready. It's really what you make of it. A lot of coaches preach these things to their kids and we have to practice them now: I need to stay positive...and make sure I'm prepared when they say you can go out and compete. I'm going to be believe we will have that time; I'm not going to let myself think that we won't play."

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