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The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Friday that schools will begin the 2020-21 school year playing sports as scheduled during the coronavirus pandemic.
If the situation is necessary, the MHSAA said the start of some fall sports practices and games could be delayed. If all fall sports are suspended, they will be rescheduled to be completed as late as July 2021, with winter sports being moved up to November.
The MHSAA said in a statement it considered switching fall and spring seasons, but that traditional spring sports, such as girls soccer and lacrosse, carry a similar risk in terms of transmission. Also, picking only certain spring sports to move to the fall could have forced students to pick between multiple sports they have participated in in the past.
“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing. But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. “Our plan moving forward is Fall in the Fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs.
“We remain grateful to the Governor for the opportunity to build the schedule and policies for returning sports to schools. We will continue to support her directives and those of the state and local health departments as we work to create the safest environment for all involved in our activities.”
On June 30, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encouraged the MHSAA to move any non-social distanced sport to the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Whitmer also released a 63-page plan of saftey guidelines for students returning to in-person instruction in the fall, including defined plans for athletics in Phases 4, 5 and 6.
In Phase 4, all large-scale indoor spectator events are suspended. Outdoor events are limited to 100 people, with maintained social distancing measures put in place. Also, indoor weight rooms and physical training that requires shared equipment is suspended.
In Phase 5, Whitmer strongly recommends outdoor sporting events are limited to 250 spectators, while indoor events are limited to 50 people. Indoor weight rooms and physical conditioning are permitted with social distancing enforced and disinfecting of all equipment.
In Phase 6, all safety protocols are no longer required.
The MHSAA Representative Council will meet again for further discussion July 29. High school football practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 10, while other fall sports practices are scheduled to start Aug. 12.