Infection rates are showing increases across the state. Teenagers are showing the highest number of new cases and sporting events in particular look to be a source of spread according to information shared today by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The result is an increasing number of students (and educators) ending up in quarantine and missing important in-person instructional time. In response, the MDHHS has issued a new epidemic order requiring rapid testing for all youth athletes ages 13-19 beginning April 2, 2021.
The testing has to be conducted consistent with a testing protocol established by the MDHHS. That guidance was released this Saturday, March 20, 2021, meaning that Principals can now plan for how to implement these requirements in their buildings. The short version of the new protocol is:
- All athletes ages 13-19 are now subject to mandatory weekly testing.
- Athletes who compete in contact sports where masks cannot be worn (i.e. wrestlers) will be required to test before an unmasked activity up to three times per week.
- Applies to all sports (contact and non-contact, winter and spring) regardless of the organizer (MHSAA, club sports, etc.).
Per the most recent information from MHSAA, almost all winter sports will have completed their seasons before this order takes effect. The exceptions are:
- Semifinals and finals for both girls and boys basketball are scheduled for April 7-10.
- Individual Wrestling championships are scheduled for April 2-3, though wrestlers are already subject to mandatory testing.
This will mean a lot more testing for spring athletes than schools initially planned, but today's announcement does provide a path forward rather than further season delays or cancellations. MASSP will keep members updated as more details become available.
An additional component of today's announcement is expanded capacity for certain outdoor arenas and stadiums. This is a limited expansion that seems primarily designed for professional athletics, but if your school is interested in pursuing this pathway, see the link below for specific and detailed guidance.