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BLOOMINGTON — More spectators can be in attendance at IHSA outdoor sporting events statewide for the remainder of the school year.

The organization's social media account released a single message Monday morning, indicating a change to Illinois Department of Public Health-mandated attendance rules being enforced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IHSA Board of Directors also met Monday morning, and the group still may have been in session when the tweet was sent.

"Spectator attendance update from @IDPH for outdoor sports only: #IHSA schools located in Regions in Phase 4 can increase spectators from 50 persons to 20% venue capacity. This change is for outdoor sports only."

All 11 of the state's COVID-19 regions presently are operating in Phase 4 of the IDPH pandemic mitigations.

This is a significant adjustment from the previous IDPH rule, which allowed only 50 spectators at an event regardless of its location — indoor or outdoor. This change does not affect the indoor sports of basketball, boys' swimming and diving, volleyball and wrestling.

Spectators do not include athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, cheer squads or media members. Fans have been permitted on a school-by-school basis at basketball games around the area this winter.

Local boys' soccer matches, which begin Tuesday, and area football contests, which kick off March 19, will be the first outdoor activities affected by this rule change.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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