MHSAA Announces Plan to Phase In Fall Sports Season

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The Michigan High School Athletic Association today announced its plan to phase in fall sports competition.

According to the plan, formed by the MHSAA's Representative Council,  low-risk sports, including boys tennis, girls golf, cross country, and girls swim and dive, can begin practice Aug. 12 and begin competition on their traditional start dates - between Aug. 19 and 21.

Practice may begin for moderate and high-risk sports, football, girls volleyball and boys soccer, but competition timelines have not yet been announced. A decision for these sports will be made by Aug. 20. Boys soccer and girls volleyball practices can begin Aug. 12. 

Football practices can begin the week of Aug. 10 with conditioning, skill work and physical training, but practice with full pads and equipment will not begin until Aug. 17.

The MHSAA also canceled scrimmages and limited the number of teams that can participate in regular-season tournaments and invitations.

An update for football, volleyball and boys soccer timelines will be released Aug. 20 depending on the spread of coronavirus.

Washtenaw County is part of two regions in Phase 4 of Gov. Whitmer's MI Safe Start Plan. The rest are in Phase 5. Being part of a region in Phase 4 means schools can not host indoor training, practice and competition. According to the MHSAA, the start of volleyball and swim and dive practices are in part contingent upon the reopning of indoor facilities. Those sports may begin practices outdoors if not allowed to be indoors by Aug. 12.

“The Council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it’s of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest-possible environment to return to sports, and this phased-in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made."

Saline Area Schools are members of the MHSAA. Superintendent Scot Graden said the district is eligible or allowed to participate in MHSAA activities. But that doesn't necessarily mean the district will. The decision will be tied to the district's plan for returning to class.

"If we start in virtual instruction and we have no path to in-person instruction, it's very hard to see offer extra-curricular activities," Graden said.

On the other hand, the district could start with virtual instruction while allowing participation in sports if there's a path to get there.

The MHSAA also has posted sport-by-sport guidance documents outlining increased precautions designed to limit the viral spread, plus a four-page overview with precautions that apply generally for all sports and include coverage of the following topics:

  • Protocol for reporting COVID-19 infections.
  • Guidance on face coverings. Athletes participating on the field/court are not required to wear face coverings, but are allowed to do so. However, bench personnel must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Transportation, use of locker rooms and facility cleaning.

Specific sport guidelines and the overview are available on the respective sport pages of the MHSAA Website, all linked from https://www.mhsaa.com/sports. Recommendations on spectator attendance will follow before the start of competition; spectators will be limited in accordance with Governor Whitmer’s executive orders on large gatherings.

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