Michigan's student-athletes return to practice, competition Monday

Backed by positive metrics and growing public pressure, the state of Michigan pivoted last week, permitting the restart of contact winter sports that were suspended due to the pandemic.

Monday is the first day back for student-athletes that participate in sports like hockey, basketball, and competitive cheer.

The reopening is good news and a sign of an improving health crisis in Michigan. But that doesn't mean student-athletes and people affiliated with the team won't still need to abide by rules.

"Because we continue to see our metrics trending in the right direction, we can move forward with allowing contact sport practices and competition with specific public health measures in place, like masks and testing," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

Michigan's amended order will remain in place until March 29.

Under the order, participants in contact sports must wear masks in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. If both measures aren't possible, then the sport must conduct extensive testing to avoid infection.

For a solid two weeks, public health orders from the governor had come under fire for their inconsistency in allowing restaurants to reopen and pushing for schools to go back to the classroom, but not allowing some sports to be played.

Gretchen Whitmer cited the emergence of a new Covid variant as why she kept things closed down. She also cited positive rates of new infection and hospitalization as why she changed course, despite the suspension originally scheduled to last until late February.

Among the arguments cited by critics was the burden of stress on students and the outlet that sports provides for them. But if that's taken away, it could exacerbate issues for them.