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League says high school games can start Jan. 14


January 1, 2021

The Minnesota State High School League announced Monday that winter sports contests and competitions may resume starting Jan. 14, according to the latest Covid-19 guidelines for youth sports from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Included in the announcement was the release of a new Covid-19 sports practice guidance for both youth and adults.

This new guidance and information is an important step as the MSHSL continues forward with a winter season model approved by the board of directors. This flexible model will be adapted to include the start of practice on Monday — with practice pods set at 25 or fewer participants — and the start of competitions on Jan. 14.

“These experiences are so important to students and they have been anxiously waiting to get these winter seasons started,” MSHSL executive director Erich Martens said. “By implementing these safety protocols recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and required by the Minnesota Department of Health, we have the best chance to provide safe seasons with reduced interruptions and also plan for full postseason experiences.”

The MDH updated youth sports document requires mask usage by all participants during practices and competitions with a few exceptions. Exceptions are made for those sports where wearing a mask may cause additional safety concerns and include gymnastics, cheerleading, wrestling and swimming and diving. Permitted face coverings include a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna or a religious face covering, with two layers of cloth recommended by the CDC. It should cover the nose and mouth completely.

Athletes must wear masks at all practices and games — even during high-exertion sports such as hockey and basketball, state officials said Monday.

There are exceptions for swimmers while they’re in the water, as well as wrestlers, and certain gymnastics and cheerleading routines.

The regulations came as part of the new Covid-19 guidance for youth winter sports. In November, Gov. Tim Walz ordered a “pause” on prep sports as part of a larger effort to minimize public gatherings to stop the disease’s spread.

Outdoor practices are preferred if possible, and teams are advised to avoid using locker rooms and facility showers.

Also included in the practice guidelines was the following advice to players, parents, and coaches, who “should understand that social interactions outside of practices are sources of transmission among teams. Gatherings indoors should be strongly discouraged. Further, players, parents, and coaches must understand that any gatherings that exceed the current social gathering limits of up to two households indoors (maximum of 10 persons total) and up to three households outdoors (maximum of 15 persons total) are prohibited.”


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