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Students at schools choosing virtual learning can play fall sports, participate in activities, MSHSAA says

Football on field
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According to MSHSAA, schools will be allowed to participate in activities provided they are following all health department requirements and phases, if applicable. However, the board also determined that fall sports/activities participation should be a local school decision.

Member schools may now determine if their teams will participate in MSHSAA activities while their students are receiving virtual instruction only and while following all requirements and guidelines set forth by their health department officials.

“Students must meet all requirements of the local school, with the local school having the ability to always be more restrictive,” MSHSAA asserted in a press release on Aug. 5. “It is a local school decision on what criteria it puts in place in order to earn the privilege to represent the school in interscholastic competition.”

In addition to providing relief for the regular fall sports season, MSHSAA’s board also granted relief from a portion of its terms and conditions to allow for a two-team, pre-season jamboree.

Postseason eligibility also was granted relief.

By-Law 5.1.2 states: “To be eligible to enter a team or individual in any preliminary or state event, a school must have competed in at least half of the number of contests permitted under the by-law pertaining to that particular sport.”

Given the sudden changes that may occur during the season, the board voted to allow teams that complete less than half of their scheduled contests to remain eligible for the postseason in their sport or activity.

Classification and district assignments for the fall seasons will now be released on Friday, Sept. 18 rather than Aug. 21. Member schools will now have until Sept. 11 to notify MSHSAA if they have a sport that will not be able to participate in the postseason. Those teams that will not be participating in the postseason will be removed from the classification process for that specific sport.

“The board did say we want to push that date back for classification and district assignment just to give schools more time to assess time if they’re going to be able to compete,” West said. “Everyone is shooting for the Labor Day holiday get into school and see how everything is going. We want to see how everyone reacts to the start of school.

“Schools will have until Sept 11 to tell us if they are playing in a sport. We take them out if they are not playing.”

High school sports teams can begin competing Aug. 28. For now, the fall championships will remain the same but changes could be made if needed.

“We want to be as optimistic as possible,” West said. “We don’t want to blow smoke up anybody. We hope if can go this fall, we can see everything to its fruition. We tell our membership, the bottom line is to follow your local guidelines and local health officials. We feel it can be done safely and we can have extracurricular activities as part of that return.

“It will take a team effort. Each school can do what it can in order to compete against another school and trust the other school is doing what it needs to do, too. It’s going to be the ultimate team effort this year.”

West Newsmagazine will continue to track and report the decisions made at the local school level.

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