Will Michigan shut down youth sports if COVID outbreaks threaten in-person learning?

Officials believe contact sports can continue without causing outbreaks

Basketball is among the sports allowed to resume Monday at the youth level in Michigan. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan officials announced Thursday that youth contact sports will be allowed to resume next week. They were asked whether a COVID-19 outbreak among sports teams could lead to a shutdown if it threatens in-person learning.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were asked about balancing the resumption of sports and the risk of COVID-19 spread that could lead to students not being able to go to school.

“If you see athletics causing spread, will you hesitate to shut them down again?” a reporter asked, specifically.

Khaldun didn’t say officials would or wouldn’t shut down sports in response to an outbreak. She reiterated that MDHHS will watch the COVID-19 numbers and monitor potential outbreaks closely.

“Athletics and athletic teams are very closely associated with schools,” Khaldun said. “But also we know that schools can operate very safely, wearing masks and distancing, so that’s very, very important.”

Michigan youth contact sports will be allowed to resume practices and games starting on Monday (Feb. 8), with certain COVID-19 safety rules in place.

For contact sports to resume, masks must be worn during practices and competition, Whitmer said. If masks can’t be worn during play, participants have to be regularly tested for COVID-19, consistent with MDHHS’s Testing and Additional Mitigation Measures for Athletic Practice and Play guidance. according to the state.

When not actively playing, participants must maintain six feet of distance and wear face masks at all times, Whitmer said.

Up to 250 people are allowed in stadiums that seat fewer than 10,000 people, and up to 500 people are allowed at venues that seat more than 10,000 people.

MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel asked Michiganders to continue following COVID-19 safety regulations, and Khaldun said monitoring the athletics situation will be a continual process.

“We’ll continue to watch the numbers,” Khaldun said. “We’ll continue to watch our cases, but we do think that there is a way for athletes to be able to participate in the safest way possible.”

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.