MHSAA makes changes to reopening guidelines

NILES — The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday afternoon that schools may begin summer activities based on several criteria.

The announcement comes one day after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer removed the stay-at-home order.

Executive Director Mark Uly said that the MHSAA is on step two of the governor’s plan to reopen the state. That means groups of 100 or less can gather for activities outdoors. He also said that they are on step one when it comes to indoor activities, which means 10 or less.

Currently, gymnasiums and indoor pools remain closed. Outdoor pools may be used under the new guidelines.

“We were excited and encouraged by Gov. Whitmer’s announcements Monday,” Uly 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.”

Uly added that summer activities could only begin if their local administrations open school facilities, and if the academic school year (the last day of online instruction/exams) has concluded.

Two area athletic directors chimed in on their plans to restart summer workouts.

At Cassopolis, Todd Pawielski said that the Southwest 10 Conference is having a zoom meeting on Tuesday to discuss their plans as a league.

“The last day of school for Cass is June 12, so we would be closed facility-wise until June 13 if I read everything correctly.”

At Brandywine, Vance Stratton said workouts will begin next week.

“We are going to begin with some outdoor workouts next Wednesday June 10,” he said. “Our last scheduled day of school is June 9. I am sure we have people biting at the bit to hit the tennis courts, ball fields, basketball courts, the track and fields in general to begin foot speed drill work, speed training, and more. It has been a long time since they have been able to race each other, outdo each other in push-ups and in general visit in person. Following the MHSAA opening up guidelines are the next adjustment to something new.”

Stratton said there will be adjustments that need to be made.

“No longer can you just show up and do things,” he said. “Now you have to take temperatures and answer questions before you can do anything. And maintain the social distancing. The biggest thing is hoping it doesn’t rain because indoors is not an option. Regardless, it will be exciting to be back even with all the current restrictions.”

No competitions may take place due to social distancing guidelines. Groups may use balls if they clean them properly as permitted. Groups must also maintain proper hygiene by washing their hands, not touching their faces and social distancing.