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Michigan winter sports allowed to resume

Michigan winter sports allowed to resume
Cedar Springs is happy to begin competition. See page 8 for sports. This photo was taken in the 2019-20 season by Dennis Buttermore.

By Bruce Walker, The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Michigan’s high school basketball courts and ice hockey rinks are once again hosting competitive sports and practice sessions as of Monday, Feb. 8.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Thursday, Feb. 4, that winter school sports may resume earlier than the original restart date of Feb. 21. Among the other sports mentioned by the governor were wrestling and soccer.

Masks and social distancing protocols must be observed at all times. In the event masks cannot be worn, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires schools adhere to a strict testing regimen.

The announcement followed the prior weekend’s Lansing protests, legislative committee meeting testimony and subsequent filing of a lawsuit by Let Them Play, a Michigan group dedicated to resuming high school sports. The governor, however, said the decision to allow practices and competitions to begin two weeks prior to the MDHHS’ original schedule was based on the state’s COVID-19 metrics.

Those metrics include a low number of new infections, more than 1 million doses of vaccine administered in the state, and availability of hospital beds.

MDHHS posted guidelines for sports events on its website on Sunday.

Michigan has attributed almost 15,000 deaths to COVID-19 and has confirmed 569,980 positive cases. The state currently reports the number of positive cases has decreased to 150 cases per 1 million people tested. Additionally, the state’s positivity test rate is 4.9%, which is the lowest documented since mid-October.   

Rep. Luke Meerman, R-Coopersville, was present at the Let Them Play protest at the Capitol.

“I want to thank, and was proud to stand alongside, members of my community and all of the student-athletes, parents and coaches from across Michigan who attended the Let Them Play rally at the Capitol on Saturday, forcing the governor to hear our message loud and clear,” Meerman said in a statement.

“The governor’s methods are confusing at best,” Meerman added. “It is clear she is referencing no scientific data or statistical information in her decision making. While I’m pleased to hear the ban has finally been lifted, I am very interested to hear Gov. Whitmer’s reasoning for extending it only to lift it a few days later.”

The governor also repeated her desire to return Michigan students to in-person learning by March 1. To achieve this goal, she signed Executive Order 2021-02, which creates the Student Recovery Advisory Council of Michigan (SRAC).

“It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals, and mental health supports. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our education system, and we know more work is needed to address the significant impact this pandemic has had on our children,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This Council will be integral to ensuring our students and educators are equipped with everything they need to thrive.”

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