MHSAA releases guidelines for fall sports to resume in August

Two weeks ago, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said it will resume the 2020-21 school year with fall sports as traditionally scheduled. Now the MHSAA has released some guidance on when each sport starts practicing and competing.

The Representative Council of the MHSAA affirmed that sports identified as lower-risk - Lower Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula boys tennis and Upper Peninsula girls tennis, cross country and Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving - can all being practice on August 12 with competition starting on August 19 or 21.

Other fall sports, deemed as moderate or high-risk - football, girls volleyball, and boys soccer - may also start practice in August but cannot compete against other teams. The MHSAA said competition timelines for these three sports will be made by August 20.

Boys soccer and girls soccer can begin practice on the 12th while the start of football practice with full pads and equipment will be delayed until August 17. Football teams can begin practice sessions with helmets only during the week of August 10.

MHSAA says this week of acclimatization is similar to allowed summer football activities that have been ongoing for schools since June. 

Fall scrimmages have been canceled and the council has also approved limitations on the number of teams that may compete together during tournaments, invitationals, and other multi-team events. According to the MHSAA, the elimination of scrimmages emphasizes the importance of keeping teams from mixing before the first date of the competition, and the regular-season limitations may lessen opportunities for viral spread while still allowing meets to be conducted.

The MHSAA said it would release updated timelines for competitions, depending on how the virus trends statewide and is reliant on the state's MI Safe Start Plan, which currently two regions are in Phase 5 which allows for limited indoor activity in large groups. The rest of the state remains in Phase 4, which is unable to host indoor training, practice, or competition. 

The start of volleyball and swimming & diving practices are in part contingent on the reopening of indoor facilities. Those sports may begin their practices outdoors if not allowed to be indoors by Aug. 12.

The MHSAA also released a protocol for reporting COVID-19 cases, guidance on face coverings, transportation, locker rooms, and facility cleaning.