The Minnesota State High School League took a step during its Board of Directors meeting on Thursday to cut back on mask-wearing requirements for spring sports athletes.
The board unanimously approved the sending of a "position statement" to the Minnesota Department of Health pleading to return mask-wearing restrictions to what they were during the fall sports season, when football and soccer players were required to wear masks on the sidelines but not required to do so while engaged in competition.
"Students-athletes (sic) may remove their masks when they enter the competition surface or step to the start line to begin a race," the letter read. "Student-athletes who are waiting to enter a competition surface or start a race must continue to wear a mask until the competition is about to begin at which time they may remove their mask."
The letter was sent by the MSHSL's eight-member Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
Also approved during Thursday's board meeting were a number of action items regarding future calendars, section placements and administrative region placements, although details on any of these items were not shared outside of board members during the meeting.
The MSHSL said it was planning on sending competitive section placements to schools sometime Thursday, and was planning on posting the new section alignments online at mshsl.org at some point Friday, but warned that anticipated heavy traffic to view these new sections may cause the website to crash or operate slowly.
The league approved a calendar for the 2021-22 school year, although no information was said about when that was set to be released to the public.
Information about the timeline of spring sports tournaments was released after the vote. Those dates are listed below in alphabetical order of sport.
- Baseball: Last day of section play is Friday, June 11. The date and site for the state quarterfinals and semifinals are still to be determined, and the state championships are scheduled for Friday, June 18 at Target Field
- Clay Target: State qualifying needs to be completed by Saturday, June 19. The state meet is scheduled for Friday, June 25 at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.
- Golf: The last day for section play is Tuesday, June 8. The state tournament is scheduled for Tuesday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 16, with the Class A tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker, the Class AA tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, and the Class AAA tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Chanhassen.
- Lacrosse: The last day of section tournaments is Friday, June 11. The state tournament is scheduled for the following Tuesday, Thursday at Saturday at still to be determined sites.
- Softball: The last day for section tournaments to be contested is Friday, June 11. The state tournament is scheduled for Tuesday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 16 at North Caswell Park in Mankato.
- Boys tennis: The last day of team sections is slated for Friday, May 28, with the final day of individual sections on Thursday, June 3. Individual and team state preliminaries are Wednesday, June 9, the team semifinals and finals Monday, June 14, and the individual semifinals and finals Tuesday, June 15. The locations for all state dates are still to be determined.
- Track and field: The last day for section meets to be contested is Saturday, June 12. The state meet is scheduled for June 17-19 at still to be determined sites.
Boys volleyball, girls wrestling move to Representative Assembly
The potential of boys volleyball's and girls wrestling's addition to the Minnesota high school sports landscape took a step forward at Thursday's meeting, with the announcement both are moving forward to the Representative Assembly scheduled for May 11.
If the activities are approved at the Representative Assembly, boys volleyball will join the high school sports calendar next spring. Girls wrestling, however, will not operate as a standalone sport.
Instead, female wrestlers will have the option to compete during the individual postseason in a girls division and weight class instead of in the boys division and weight class. That change would happen in the 2021-22 winter season if approved.