Youth sports, including high school athletics, can resume games and scrimmages on Jan. 14, per Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. Practices for the sports can resume on Jan. 4.

“The decision to resume sports does not mean engaging in sports is without risk. Any time you gather with other people, you are putting yourself and others at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the guidance reads. “COVID-19 can lead to serious medical conditions and even death for people of all ages. We cannot predict who will become severely ill, although we know that older people and people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk. We do not yet know what the long-term effects of COVID-19 are; even people with mild cases may experience long-term complications. People with symptoms and without symptoms can spread COVID-19. The masking, distancing and other guidance provided here is intended to reduce the risk of transmission, but does not eliminate it.”

Face coverings will be required for athletes competing in practices and games except in wrestling, swimming and diving, gymnastics and cheerleading, for fear of them becoming a choking hazard, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This means basketball and hockey players will have to compete in face coverings, something many schools in Western Wisconsin have already been doing in many sports since the start of the school year. Michigan mandated masks in football, volleyball and soccer. Many states in the Northeast portion of the country have mandated masks during competitions, as has North Carolina.

“People are not permitted to remove their face coverings during activities that involve a high level of exertion,” the guidance reads.

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Jan. 14 was the earliest most Minnesota State High School League sports could resume given the Jan. 4 practice start and the League’s mandatory 10-day practice period to start seasons. The MSHSL has previously stated it would be ready to resume competitions as soon as the state allowed.

Practices cannot exceed pod sizes of 25. More guidance on game play is expected.

You can view the entire guidance here.