December 30, 2020 at 1:16 p.m.
The Minnesota State High School League announced that practices would be able to start January 4, 2021 and games can start on January 14, 2021. The big change going forward for a few sports are the requirements of basketball and hockey players to be wearing masks during competitions.
Wrestlers, swimmers and gymnasts will not be required to wear masks during competitions, but will be required to adhere to the mask-wearing policy while on the bench or waiting for their turns.
North Branch Activities Director Andrea Schmidt and Chisago Lakes Activities Director Jodi Otte both confirmed that their schools will be following the MSHSL schedule and will begin practicing on January 4 and begin competitions on January 14.
Here is MSHSL’s full release on the maetter:
This new guidance and information is very important as it allows the MSHSL to initiate a Board approved winter sports season model that includes the start of practice on January 4, 2021, and the start of competitions on January 14, 2021.
Today’s announcement of a start date in competition moves the League one step closer to meeting its goal of providing opportunities for students in all activities and athletics this year.
A commitment by all member schools to start our winter seasons with safe protocols and an increased focus on limiting any transmission of the virus is critical in completing seasons with the fewest possible interruptions on the path toward full post-season opportunities. Full compliance with guidance provided by MDH and MSHSL is expected of all administrators and coaches and is imperative for successful seasons.
The MSHSL will continue to collect school-generated COVID-related data throughout the winter season. All member schools are requested to submit their data on a bi-weekly basis as the League reviews the implementation of winter seasons and provides aggregate summary data to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Practices Beginning January 4, 2021:
Preparing for practices:
Schools should have clear expectations and implement guidance necessary to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Face-coverings must be worn by all persons at all times. This includes both practices and games, with only a few exceptions. Removing face-coverings during activities that involve a high level of exertion is not permitted. The exceptions to the cloth face-covering rule include:
Gymnastics and Cheerleading: Student-athletes may temporarily remove the cloth face-covering during activities such as tumbling/stunting/flying or on certain apparatuses to avoid impairing vision, risk of choking or getting caught on the apparatuses. Student-athletes must wear face-coverings for all other practices and routines.
Swimming and Diving: Student-athletes should not wear a cloth face covering while they are in the water.
Wrestling: Student-athletes may remove their cloth face-covering when they have wrestling contact with another student-athlete.
The following requirements for practice have not changed:
• Pod size should not exceed 25. Pods consist of players, coaches, and managers.
• Games, jamborees and scrimmages with other teams are not allowed.
• The use of locker rooms and facility showers should be avoided.
• Spectators are not allowed at practices.
Competitions Beginning January 14, 2021:
Activities directors are encouraged to build and update team schedules at this time.
When creating schedules, the following requirements and recommendations should be followed:
Competition start dates:
Competition for MSHSL Winter Sports (Girls and Boys Alpine Skiing, Girls and Boys Basketball, Dance, Girls and Boys Hockey, Girls and Boys Nordic Skiing Boys Swimming and Diving, and Wrestling) may begin on Thursday, January 14, 2021.
Gymnastics may begin contests on Thursday, January 21, 2021.
Adapted Floor Hockey begins their practice season on Monday, January 4, 2021.
Scheduling of competitions:
• Two contests may be scheduled each week. A week is defined as six days from Monday through Saturday.
• Three contests may be scheduled in the last two regular-season weeks of the season. This is intended to provide for make-up dates for missed contests during the season.
• Scheduling games on back-to-back days is not recommended.
• Competitions are limited to dual or triangular meets only.
• No invitationals or tournaments should be held.
• No scrimmages or jamborees should be held.
• Competition should be focused on conference, section, regional or local teams as defined by the school.
Competitions with opponents from bordering states are allowed when less than 50 miles one way and when determined as local. Competitions of greater distances may be approved by the MSHSL with supporting rationale. Any out-of-state competition must follow MSHSL guidelines for competition types.
Additional guidance from MDH will be forthcoming regarding requirements for hosting and participating in competitions. At this time, a date has not been set for this additional guidance.
MSHSL Staff are working to update all winter athletics and activities guidance and information. This updated information is scheduled to be sent to Activities Directors on Wednesday morning.