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Fall prep sports continuing as normal, MHSAA says

EAST LANSING — The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Friday night the high school sports fall season will continue as traditionally scheduled.

The MHSAA Representative Council, the Association’s 19-member legislative body, met virtually with MHSAA staff July 15 and discussed ideas for playing sports starting in August amidst coronavirus concerns. The council plans a July 29 meeting for further discussion.

High school football practices are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 10 and all other fall sports starting Aug. 12. The MHSAA said it’s “moving forward with a plan that first calls for all Fall sports to be started and played as scheduled.” However, the MHSAA said, “if the situation deems it necessary, the start of some or all Fall sports practices or competitions could be delayed.”

The MHSAA plan’s progression includes lower risk fall sports that can be played, while higher risk sports postponed until later in the school year.

If fall sports are suspended, the MHSAA said they would be rescheduled during a reconfigured calendar that would allow winter sports to begin in November followed by the conclusion of fall and spring seasons potentially in July 2021.

The Representative Council determined football, girls volleyball, swimming and diving, and boys soccer during the fall are moderate or high-risk sports because they include athletes in close contact and indoors.

The pandemic wiped out the championship season for winter sports and prevented the start of spring sports.

An MHSAA press release said plans are contingent on progress by schools and regions across Michigan in accordance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Safe Start Plan. As of Friday, two regions were in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, with all the rest in Phase 4, unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.

“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. “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.”

The MHSAA said its staff is preparing COVID-related policies for all fall sports and will make those guidelines and precautions available to member schools as the season approaches. Those policies will follow what was presented to schools in summer offseason training, which began June 1.

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