MHSAA issues guidelines for return to sports
EAST LANSING - The Michigan High School Athletic Association on Friday submitted to its member schools a series of updated timelines and recommendations to guide the return of sports.
The "MHSAA/NFHS Guidance for Re-Opening School Sports" is based primarily on direction provided by the MHSAA and National Federation of State High School Associations' (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committees, in addition to reopening plans provided by the Michigan and federal governments and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the MHSAA said.
The MHSAA/NFHS plan recommends a three-step process to returning to full athletic participation, and for each step outlines actions to be taken in five major areas: pre-workout/contest screening of athletes and coaches for sickness, limitations of the number of participants who may be involved in a gathering, proper cleaning for facilities, the use of equipment during activity and best practices for keeping participants safely hydrated.
"The MHSAA and its Representative Council believe restarting school sports is essential to the physical and mental well-being of students, and the guidelines outlined for schools today provide the 'How' for schools to return to athletics when they've received the go-ahead from state and county health officials," MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. "We are thankful for our state government, state education and health departments, our medical partners and the NFHS for their guidance these last few months, and we will continue to follow and pass on their recommendations as we prepare our schools to bring back this part of student life that's been sorely missed.
"Again, it is important to note that this document addresses 'How' schools can return to activity; the decision on 'When' schools can return to activity will be done under the direction of state government and health department officials, Uyl said.
"As government actions impact this timeline, the MHSAA will continue to update all involved."
"The document the MHSAA released is complex," Baldwin athletic director Rick Heitmeyer said over the weekend.
"We are hopeful that we can move forward with athletics, but we are waiting patiently to see what transpires with the state. Of course, our main focus is determining how academics will be structured in the fall. These are unique times."
On Tuesday, the MHSAA came out with another announcement.
- The Michigan High School Athletic Association has updated its guidelines for reopening of school sports based on the lifting of her stay-at-home order and further recommendations from Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office announced Monday, June 1. Winter and Spring sports were halted April 3 to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Following are points of likely interest from today's update and a comment from MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl:
• Member schools may begin summer activities at school facilities as long as these two conditions are met: 1. School administration has announced schools facilities are open to students and staff, and 2. The academic school year (last day of online instruction/exams) has ended.
• Indoor facilities, including gymnasiums and weight rooms, remain closed. This includes swimming pools, although outdoor pools may be used for athletic activities.
• Competition is not yet allowed because participants must continue to follow social distancing.
• Balls may be used among groups of participants, but participants should clean such common equipment as permitted and continue to maintain proper hygiene (washing hands, not touching their faces) and social distance.
• The most accurate answer to the question "What Step are schools on?" is Step 2 for outdoor activities - thanks to the ability to have gatherings of up to 100 participants - while indoor activities will start at Step 1 if gatherings of only 10 or fewer are allowed. Guidelines will continue to be updated based on directives from Governor Whitmer's office.
"We were excited and encouraged by Governor Whitmer's announcements Monday," Uyl said. "The opportunity for outside gatherings of up to 100 allowed us to rework a number of guidelines that we had published Friday as part of the MHSAA/NFHS reopening document.
"Our schools have been cautiously eager to take this long-awaited first step. We will continue to provide updates in accordance with the Governor's directives for reopening the state, always prioritizing safety for all involved in school sports programs."
Sportswriter John Raffel contributed to this report