Minnesota, Illinois Preps on Pause, Ohio Moving Forward

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Minnesota and Illinois joined Michigan as Midwest states pausing winter sports, while Ohio is continuing to move forward as seasons are set to begin.

Michigan youth sports were put on hold by Sunday’s three-week in-state epidemic order amid the rise of COVID-19 cases. Illinois likely won’t start basketball until January after new state restrictions were announced Tuesday, while Minnesota announced a four-week stay safe plan Wednesday.

Related content: Michigan HS Sports on Pause as Part of 3-Week Order

According to the Star Tribune, Minnesota governor Tim Walz’s plan shuts down youth sports for four weeks, beginning Saturday. The timing will have an impact on the end of fall sports seasons as well as on the start of winter schedules.

“I think it’s important to do whatever is necessary to ensure complete safety,” said Brad Strand, Fergus Falls girls’ basketball coach and president of the Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association. “We know that with a pause, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker’s Tier 3 mitigations, which were announced following a Tuesday that saw 97 new COVID-19 fatalities in the state, will go into effect at midnight Friday. According to the Chicago Tribune, the restrictions on group recreation include no indoor sports or activities. Outdoor sports and recreation activities must be limited to 10 people or fewer, all of whom must wear face coverings and observe social distancing.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Illinois High School Association and Chicago Public Schools said that bowling, cheer, dance and boys swimming and diving, which had already started, are suspended until further notice. The IHSA board was scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss plans for sports throughout the rest of the school year.

Ohio is taking a different approach. According to Cleveland.com, the Ohio High School Athletic Association said Wednesday that all winter sports are on as scheduled, including girls’ basketball beginning Friday and boys’ basketball beginning Nov. 25. Ohio had 7,079 new cases Tuesday.

“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, I would like to utilize this update to reaffirm that the OHSAA winter sports seasons will go forward as planned,” OHSAA executive director Doug Ute wrote in an email to schools, according to Cleveland.com. “The decision comes after discussion with the governor’s office, the OHSAA Board of Directors and the OHSAA staff along with conversations with numerous administrators and the results of the membership survey that we just conducted.”

Of 1,464 administrators that responded to OHSAA’s membership survey, 56 percent said yes to starting winter sports as planned, 11 percent said yes to suspending all winter sports until conditions change, and 33 percent said yes to suspending all winter sports until January.

Governor Mike DeWine said Tuesday that the state is allowing sports to proceed “so far,” and that it is up to each school district to determine how to proceed. DeWine did enact a 21-day 10 p.m. curfew that means venue and gyms must be vacated by 10 p.m.

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