REED CITY - The Michigan High School Athletic Association issued a statement on Friday that member schools will begin the 2020-21 school year playing fall sports as traditionally scheduled.

But the MHSAA said there would be contingency concepts for potential interruptions because to the spread of COVID-19.

The MHSAA said its Representative Council, the Association's 19-member legislative body, met virtually with association staff on Wednesday (July 15) to discuss a series of ideas for playing sports beginning in August.

The MSHAA said the Council will meet again July 29 for further discussion.

High school football practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 10, with all other Fall sports to start practice on Aug. 12.

The association's statement added the following:

"The MHSAA is moving forward with a plan that first calls for all Fall sports to be started and played as scheduled. However, if the situation deems it necessary, the start of some or all Fall sports practices or competitions could be delayed. The next step in the plan's progression calls for lower-risk Fall sports that can be played to be completed, with higher-risk Fall sports postponed until later in the school year.

"If all fall sports must be suspended, they will be rescheduled during a reconfigured calendar that would see Winter sports begin in November followed by the conclusion of Fall and Spring seasons potentially extending into July 2021."

The MHSAA said a concept that would swap traditional fall and spring sports was determined to not be a feasible plan.

It was pointed out football, girls volleyball, girls swimming & diving and boys soccer during the fall are considered moderate or high-risk sports because athletes are in close contact or are played indoors; they were considered the impetus for potentially switching all fall sports to spring.

Moving only selected Spring sports, like all low-risk to Fall, was not considered sound, the MHSAA statement said, because it would force student-athletes to pick between sports they've previously played.

Local athletic directors expressed cautious optimism.

"I appreciate the MHSAA releasing this statement regarding sports for the upcoming year," Reed City AD Kris Griffin said. "However, I believe that we still need to be cautiously optimistic, until we see what happens over the upcoming weeks. Unless some of our current restrictions are lifted (social distancing), how do we play the majority of our sports? There are still a lot of questions on how we start on time and play fall sports in the fall.

"As far as our current practice routines, we will continue to do what we are doing. The MHSAA has directed us to continue to follow their plan as it relates to our current activities. This includes us not doing anything indoors, which makes it very tough for sports like volleyball that are set to start practice in less than a month."

'I am trying to remain optimistic," Pine River's Shawn Ruppert. "We will need to see what school looks like in the fall before I will be convinced that fall sports will happen as usual.

It was pointed out plans remain reliant on progression by schools and regions across the state according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Safe Start Plan. Currently two regions are in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest, including all in Osceola and Mecosta counties, are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.