Will Michigan schools pause youth sports due to COVID surge?

State recommends pause on indoor dining, sports, in-person high school classes

Michigan school sports voluntary pause: The reaction from educators, MHSAA
Michigan school sports voluntary pause: The reaction from educators, MHSAA

LANSING, Mich. – For more than a year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s press conferences brought with them concerns about tighter restrictions or hope of looser restrictions.

At Friday’s press conference, Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services suggested the state voluntarily pause on controversial issues, particularly shutting down school sports again.

In order to slow the spread of COVID, the state is asking -- but not mandating -- three big changes over the next two weeks:

  • Schools to return to remote learning.
  • Schools to suspend youth sports -- including games and practices.
  • Residents to avoid indoor dining.

READ: Michigan’s new strategy in COVID compliance: politely asking rather than mandating

Considering the fight for school sports sparked so much debate, how much buy-in will there be on the requests?

Novi Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Matthews said he disagrees with the idea that after-school activities like school sports are spreading the virus.

“The experience we’ve had this week suggests that sports are not a driving factor of the infections,” Matthews said. “Just stopping sports is not the answer.”

RELATED: CDC: Restrictions needed to slow Michigan virus surge, specifically in indoor youth sports

He cited two positive, nonsymptomatic cases in 500 sports-related tests this week.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association said it’s going to wrap up its indoor sports and take the state’s request under advisement and released the following statement Friday afternoon:

The K-12 Alliance Of Michigan represents school superintendents across the state. Executive Director Robert McCann said the state’s request leaves superintendents looking to county health departments for guidance.

“Unfortunately, if you’re working with the county, it may mean a decision made in one county may not be the same decision made in a few miles down the road,” McCann said. “Which can create inconsistencies and frustrations further, so yes it would be better coming from Lansing.”

Matthews said shutting down sports would likely lead to students looking for other things to do, which would mean gathering in other places.


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.