MSHSL board approves plans for return

Fri 12-4-2020

BROOKLYN CENTER - The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors Thursday approved a flexible plan for the restart of winter activities when clearance is provided by state governmental leaders.

Under an Executive Order currently in place, high school and youth sports in the state are in a four-week pause in activities designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. That is scheduled to expire on Dec. 18.

The MSHSL board approved three possible models for the start of the winter season, Dec. 21, Jan. 4 and Jan. 18.

"With the dynamic nature of COVID-19, flexibility is going to be critical for our programs," said Erich Martens, Executive Director of the MSHSL. "We need to remain flexible in the start of seasons and in carrying them to conclusion."

Each sport features a 30% reduction in the number of competitions, with 18 events for basketball and hockey; 16 dates/32 events for wrestling; and 11 events for gymnastics, skiing and swimming.

"We know that the state and our schools are facing extremely high case counts and that adjustments in the models may need to take place, and if so, we are ready to make those adjustments in our calendar," Martens said. "Should the winter season restart get pushed later, we may see shorter seasons and fewer games."

Moderate adjustments in the winter season are accounted for and are likely to result in minimal disruption to the spring sports seasons. Included in the scheduling models are weeks designated for section play and a potential state tournament.

All models presented by the Return to Participation Task Force were constructed with a focus on providing an experience in every one of the League’s activities and sports. In addition, health and safety, recommendations from state organizations and agencies, and the unique aspects of each sport were a part of the planning.

"I want to acknowledge the work of the Return to Participation Task Force," said Blaine Novak, Board President and Superintendent of Schools in New York Mills. "As a League, we continue to work toward providing all education-based activities, in the safest manner possible, aligning with the guidance provided by our state agencies. In support of the Return to Participation Task Force, our board took action to provide the flexibility needed to offer the most extensive season possible under the current conditions for our member schools and student-athletes."

The models, which also included a projected view of spring activities, maintain a traditional number of spring season contests and an end date of no later than June 19, 2021.