State health officials seeking ‘pause’ on prep winter sports

State health officials are urging a pause on high school winter sports and Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that new guidance will be coming from the state “in the next day or so.”

At least 10% of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota schools have been associated with sports, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health. Two schools that recently shifted to distance learning did so because of COVID exposure in sports, she said.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said cases associated with sports have been growing. Walz also noted a connection with interstate play in youth sports.

Malcolm said health officials are “urging there to be a pause on play and practice’’ of youth and high school sports. Officials will be talking with the state education department and the Minnesota State High School League before providing what Walz referred to as “clarified guidance.”

Numerous school districts across the state already have put winter sports on hold until December, and some until after Jan. 1.

Among high school league winter sports, dance team began practice Nov. 9. The next sports to start practices are boys’ hockey and boys’ basketball on Nov. 23, with other girls’ and boys’ sports to follow in the ensuing weeks.

Among fall sports still in action, football begins two weeks of postseason play on Tuesday. The volleyball season is scheduled to end Dec. 12.

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