By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
To provide further guidance and clarification after the announcement of Executive Order 180 regarding COVID-19 precautions and athletics by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association today provided member schools with guidance on the wearing of facial coverings for interscholastic sports.
Following is an excerpt from today’s communication sent to member schools on facial coverings:
Here is a summary of current requirements as they relate to fall sports and face coverings in light of the Governor’s most recent Executive Order (EO 2020-180). It is the MHSAA’s expectation that all members comply with Executive Order 180, which was issued on September 9, 2020, and governs social distancing and facial coverings requirements for organized sports.
As of September 10:
- Face coverings may be worn but student-athletes are not required to do so while in active participation in cross country, golf and tennis. Active participation only applies when an athlete is “in” the game/match/meet/race/competition or is actively involved in any warm-up or cool-down activity. In swimming & diving, there is no requirement of face coverings while preparing to enter the water (and obviously while in the water) but the covering shall be worn at all other times when on-deck or in the facility.
- Face coverings are required in football, soccer and volleyball. This includes all times during active participation and all times during non-active participation when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.
- There are no provisions in EO 180 for medical intolerance reasons or medical waivers. This is not an MHSAA regulation, and thus the MHSAA has no legal authority to waive or modify this Executive Order from the Governor’s office.
- In both indoor and outdoor practice and training sessions in all regions of the state, including Regions 6 and 8, this same sport-specific guidance applies.
- Consistent with current Executive Orders, face coverings shall be worn by coaches, medical staff, game event staff, media members and spectators. Note that broadcasters and PA announcers are an exception to this requirement when that person is actively broadcasting or announcing. This allows broadcasters and announcers to remove the face covering while performing those speaking duties but should wear the face covering at all other times.
- Officials may wear face coverings on the field of play if he/she desires. Officials shall wear face coverings upon arrival at a facility, before the contest, during intermissions away from the field/court/area of play and following the contest until departure. Remember that officials have no role in enforcing face covering requirements as this is a responsibility of school administrators.
- Executive Order 180 does not define ‘facial coverings’ for purposes of organized sports. Traditional cloth masks, gaiters, affixed helmet plastic shields (100% clear – no tint) and cloth/fabric helmet attachments located inside the face mask (all of which must cover the nose and mouth) are not prohibited.
The MHSAA will attempt to assist schools in understanding these requirements but know the MHSAA has no authority to waive, ignore or modify Executive Orders for any reason.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.
Elections were completed recently to fill positions on the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s legislative body, its Representative Council, with six members receiving re-election, another rejoining the Council after previously serving and two being selected for the first time – one of those two as part of a special election.
Five of the six re-elected members ran unopposed. Midland athletic director Eric Albright was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula, Portage Northern athletic director Chris Riker was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the southwestern section of the Lower Peninsula, and Brighton athletic director John Thompson was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the southeastern section of the Lower Peninsula.
Calumet faculty member and past athletic director Sean Jacques was re-elected to continue representing the Class C and D schools in the Upper Peninsula. Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, was re-elected to continue representing private and parochial schools. Grand Haven superintendent Scott C. Grimes was re-elected for a statewide at-large position from an original pool of four candidates.
Bangor athletic director Fredrick J. Smith will be rejoining the Council after previously serving from 2005-17 while athletic director at Comstock, Buchanan and Benton Harbor. He was elected to represent junior high and middle schools. Harbor Springs athletic director Anna Rigby will join the Council for the first time and was elected to represent Class C and D schools in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula. All eight were elected to serve two-year terms.
Camden-Frontier superintendent Chris Adams also will be joining the Council for the first time. He was selected as part of a special election to serve a one-year term representing Class C and D schools in the southeastern section of the Lower Peninsula. He will finish the term of former Ottawa Lake Whiteford athletic director and coach Jason Mensing, who now serves at Class A Westland John Glenn.
The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee. The Council meets three times annually, and these elections take effect with the Fall 2022 meeting. Five members of the Council convene monthly during the school year to form the MHSAA’s Executive Committee, which reviews appeals of Handbook regulations by member schools.
Additional elections took place to select representatives to the Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee. Lake Linden-Hubbell athletic director and varsity girls basketball coach Jack Kumpula was elected to represent Class D schools, and West Iron County principal, athletic director and varsity football coach Mike Berutti was elected to represent athletic coaches. Powers North Central principal David Florenski was selected in a special election to serve a one-year term representing Class D schools.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.