Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that the pause on high school and youth sports that has been in place since Nov. 21 due to the coronavirus will be extended through Jan. 3, 2021, with team practices permitted to begin the following day.
The new mandate is a modified extension of the governor’s Executive Order 20-99, which was set to expire this Friday. The order has also closed down restaurants, bars, and fitness centers around the state, while limiting general gathering sizes in homes.
According to a statement from the Minnesota State High School League, the dance season will be able to resume in-person practice on Jan. 4, while gymnastics, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys hockey, wrestling, boys swimming and diving, girls and boys Nordic skiing, girls and boys Alpine skiing, and adapted floor hockey will all be able to begin practice in-person. Schools will also have the option of beginning in-person practice at a later date based on their COVID-19 response plan.
“The Jan. 4, 2021, date aligns well with many member schools’ calendars as they return from extended breaks,” said League Executive Director Erich Martens in the statement. “This opportunity to participate in athletics and activities also comes with great responsibility. It is critical that all students, coaches, directors and officials maintain the highest standard of health and safety, both in and outside of school.”
No official word has been given on when competition will be allowed to begin for the winter sports season, though indications are that such approval would require state guidance. Under previously approved winter sports season models from the MSHSL, a Jan. 4 starting date for practices would permit competition to begin in the middle of the week of Jan. 11.