• Michigan

MHSAA updates winter contact sport COVID protocols: Except in wrestling, or with documented medical exemption, masks must be worn at all times

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, February 9, 2021, 4:02 pm

When the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services amended its epidemic order to allow winter contact sports last week, it needed some time to lay out the rules by which those sports — basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling — could commence contact practices and competitions this week. 

In accordance with the MDHHS guidance document posted Sunday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association sent out an update document Monday on the precautions needed for those sports, clarifying a few spots of question. That document was shared with the media Tuesday afternoon.

Masks will be required at all times during competition for basketball, competitive cheer and ice hockey, regardless of whether or not an athlete has a negative rapid or PCR test. The only exception would be if the athlete has a disability or a medical condition — attested to in writing by a medical provider (MD, DO, PA, NP) — that would not permit a mask to be worn. In that case, a negative COVID test would have to be obtained 24 hours before (with a rapid antigen test) or 72 hours before (PCR test) each day of competition and practice. 

Wrestlers will be tested either the day before (at the same time as a home weigh-in) or the day of a meet with rapid antigen tests, available for schools to order from the MDHHS starting Tuesday. (If PCR tests are used instead, it would be within 72 hours of the competition). 

By the MDHHS epidemic order, officials are also required to wear masks at all times, unless they have a medical exemption. 

Concession stands can be open at events, but consumption of food and beverages is only allowed where patrons are seated and groups are separated by at least six feet. 

Spectators are limited to:

• 500 in a facility with fixed seating for 10,000 or more.

• 250 in a facility with fixed seating of less than 10,000.

• 100 in a facility with no fixed seating.

Schools may choose to limit spectators to two per participant, as recommended by the MDHHS, but the above maximums still apply. Cheerleaders, dance teams and pom pon squads can count as participants, but pep bands count against the number of spectators. 

Spectator limits for bowling, as well as swimming and diving, remain at 25 percent of the capacities of the pool or bowling center.