REGIONAL - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, in an executive order signed last week, cleared the way for youth sports to resume after the holiday break. The Minnesota State High School League followed suit …
REGIONAL - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, in an executive order signed last week, cleared the way for youth sports to resume after the holiday break. The Minnesota State High School League followed suit immediately and announced that in-person practices for all winter high school sports would begin on that date.
The first date of competition under the new directive has not yet been determined. Practices for winter sports were to begin in mid-to-late November, but Walz put the brakes on that amid rising COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
“We need to get kids playing again,” Walz said last Wednesday during his press conference.
ISD 696 Athletic Director Tom Coombe said last week that varsity competition could likely begin about two weeks following the start of organized team activities and practices.
“Details had not yet been finalized related to practice plans for our winter sports teams, including boys and girls basketball, boys and girls Nordic skiing and boys hockey,” he said. The Ely school district also participates in a girls hockey cooperative with Eveleth-Gilbert. The dance team season may also resume in-person practice sessions on Jan. 4.
Member schools of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) have the option to begin in-person participation at a later date if it best aligns with their district’s COVID-19 response plan.
The MSHSL indicated it plans to hold both section and state tournaments for winter sports. Fall activities were limited to section competitions only. Similar to fall activities, winter sports will operate with a modified calendar and shortened season, along with public health protocols for each activity.
“While we recognize that our students, coaches and families are anxious to return to activities and athletics, the Jan. 4, 2021, date aligns well with many member schools’ calendars as they return from extended breaks,” said League Executive Director Erich Martens. “This opportunity to participate in athletics and activities also comes with great responsibility. It is critical that all students, coaches, directors and officials maintain the highest standard of health and safety, both in and outside of school. Everyone must actively share the responsibility of reducing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping themselves and others safe and healthy.”
The Minnesota State High School League will continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Health and the League’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to review and update the Sports and Activities Guidance and Information that will further clarify, reinforce and implement the commitment to providing the safest environment for all involved.
“The League appreciates the hard work of Gov. Walz and state departments in recognizing the significance and importance of these activities and athletics for our students,” Martens said. “Through participation in League activities and athletics, our students have enhanced physical and mental health and well-being. And, when they participate under the leadership and mentorship of League-trained and certified coaches and directors, implementing League provided protocols and guidance, they can enjoy the safest possible experiences.”