Belle Plaine Public Schools could begin winter sports as early as Monday, Dec. 21, though school leaders are working through several different scenarios after the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors met on Thursday, Dec. 3, to approve a flexible plan for the restart of winter activities.
“With the dynamic nature of COVID-19, flexibility is going to be critical for our programs,” said Executive Director of the Minnesota State High School League Erich Martens in an MSHSL press release. “We need to remain flexible in the start of seasons and in carrying them to conclusion.”
Currently, an executive order is in place that pauses school activities for four weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. That is set to expire on Friday, Dec. 18. If the order is not extended, school league athletics should be able to start practice on Monday, Dec. 21, and competitions on Monday, Jan. 4.
Even if that is the case, some districts may still choose to delay their seasons.
“Many that I have had contact with would still be heavily in favor of waiting until after the Holiday break to see how that impacts the Covid numbers,” said Belle Plaine Athletic Director John Bergs in an email to school staff.
It is also possible that the governor will extend the executive order, in which case schools may be looking at a practice start date of Jan. 4 or Jan. 18.
Regardless of the start date, winter activities are expected to end by the last week of March, so spring activities can stay on schedule and begin in early April.
Bergs is optimistic that there could be a state tournament for both winter and spring sports.
Belle Plaine is also planning for the return of other school activities this winter. The competitive one act play will have a virtual competition component, and speech will have a virtual season with online judging. The details, including the schedule for these activities, are still up in the air, according to Bergs.
For now, he is thanking staff and parents for their patience in this uncertain time and reminding them that things could still change.