Region 8's move to Tier 2 is exciting news, kinda

Welcome, Tier 2!

Now we can get back to high school basketball games, eating at our favorite restaurant and inviting 49 of our closest friends over to watch the playoffs, right?

Wait a minute, that’s Tier 1. Tier 2 is much less exciting when it comes to life in Hinsdale. Museums (one) and casinos (none) can open at limited capacity, and indoor fitness classes can be conducted with up to 10 participants.

The move to Tier 2 is good news, though, for high school athletes. Teens on the boys swimming, boys and girls bowling, girls gymnastics, girls badminton, cheerleading and pom squads were able to start practicing this week at Hinsdale Central, according to athletic director Dan Jones. Those on the girls and boys basketball teams also can practice, under what he described as “strict mitigations.”

Schedules haven’t been set yet, but competition can began after teams have practiced for seven days. Unfortunately, Jones expects that at an Illinois High School Association meeting Jan. 27, the board will announce a delay in the start of the spring and summer sports seasons.

Our move to Tier 2 Monday night came on the heels of Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement late last week that he was releasing the “Tier 3 Mitigation Freeze,” he instituted Nov. 20. Region 8, which includes DuPage and Kane counties, along with Regions 9, 10 and 11, all moved to the less restrictive tier.

Only three of the state’s 11 regions are in Tier 1, which allows limited indoor service for restaurants and bars as its most exciting perk, along with expanded opportunities for high school athletes to compete.

What do we need to do to get to Tier 1? A seven-day rolling average test positivity rate below 8 percent for three consecutive days, available intensive care unit and medical/surgical bed capacity greater than or equal to 20 percent for three consecutive days (measured with the three-day rolling average) and no sustained increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals (measured with the seven-day rolling average over seven of 10 days).

Not a lot, right?

And then there’s the question of what all this means for in-person schooling in Community Consolidated District 181 and Hinsdale High School District 86. Very little, as the indoor gathering limit does not and has not applied to students participating in-person classroom learning. Both districts are following their own set of metrics to determine when they will bring more students back to campus for more hours each week. (To see what other nearby elementary districts are doing, see the article on Page 7.)

We can’t forget the vaccination effort, with the governor announcing the state should move into Phase 1b next week. Planning for the move is tough, because local health departments apparently don’t know in advance how much vaccine they will receive each week. So far only 508,732 of Illinois’ 12.67 million residents have been vaccinated.

The move to Tier 2 might not be worth throwing a party over (you can’t invite many people anyway), but it certainly is a step in the right direction. If we can keep washing our hands, wearing our masks, staying socially distant and remaining patient (that’s a big one!), we’ll get through this. And hopefully come out stronger on the other side.