Michigan focused on reopening high schools, not resuming sports

As Michigan's fall athletic season was coming to a close in November, Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services announced a pause in a lot of activities, which forced athletics to be put on hold. When the pause was extended, both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the MDHHS director said reopening high schools in the state is the priority.

During Monday's press conference, Whitmer discussed the extension of the pause by another 12 days. Following her statement and one from MDHHS director Robert Gordon, she was asked about the plan to allow high school sports to resume. Neither Whitmer and Gordon would give a definite timeline but said sports aren't their priority.

"As a parent of a high schooler, I believe, and as the governor of Michigan, I believe that our first priority should be getting students back in the classroom safely," Whitmer said.

Gordon agreed, saying that reopening there is a range of activities when it comes to sports. 

"The first priority is reopening high schools and sustaining that. When it comes to sports, there's a range of risk levels. At one end you have kids (participating) in individual activities that are outdoors where people are spaced out. At another level, you have contact sports outdoors. And at another level, you have indoor contact sports. As you go through those levels, the level of risk increases and we have to think carefully about moving through them," Gordon said.

On Nov. 18, high school sports in Michigan were postponed as part of the original three-week pause. When the pause was extended on Monday, Dec. 7, it meant high schools may not resume fall athletic competition until at least Dec. 20. 

Whitmer, Khaldun, and Gordon said professional and college athletics have more testing and higher standards for risk mitigation.

The MHSAA suspended all fall tournaments for girls volleyball, girls swimming & diving and football, and all winter practices and competitions which were scheduled to start over the next three weeks.