The effects of the COVID-19 virus are being felt by high school students around the state of Minnesota – and especially those close to home.
The news started to affect local teams on Thursday, March 12, when concerns regarding the virus touched the Cambridge-Isanti robotics team. That group won the Lake Superior Regional in Duluth to earn a berth in the 2020 FIRST Championship, a world event set to be held in Detroit at the end of April.
On Thursday, March 12, the governing body of the FIRST Championship suspended the rest of the season and canceled the Detroit event.
The next morning the Minnesota State High School League canceled the state’s boys and girls basketball tournaments. The girls basketball state tournament had reached the championship stage in Class 4A and 3A as well as in the consolation bracket, while semifinal games in the two lower classes were scheduled for Friday night.
The Cambridge-Isanti girls, who had qualified for the Class 4A tournament, already had played twice and did not win any games.
On the boys side, several section championships scheduled for Friday night were immediately canceled, as was the state tournament that was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 18, at the Target Center.
The cancellation directly affected the Cambridge-Isanti boys basketball team, which had earned a return trip to the Class 4A State Tournament with a win over Duluth East in the Section 7 championship game on Thursday, March 12.
The Friday morning announcement by the state high school association also said the section speech tournament events scheduled for the week of March 15-21 have been postponed indefinitely.
Friday afternoon the MSHSL announced a delay in the start of the game schedules for spring sports around the state until Monday, April 6.
Spring high school sports teams around Minnesota were allowed to holds practices and tryouts only; events such as scrimmages, competitions, or training sessions with programs from other schools were prohibited until Monday, April 6.
The MSHSL said “school administration at their discretion may place more restrictive limitations on practice and participation.”
The state governing board specifically stated that cooperatively sponsored programs were allowed to practice. It also ruled that out-of-state training trips were acceptable, with school and MSHSL permission, but those out-of-state trips could not include games or scrimmages.
The MSHSL ruling also stated that visual arts, music and speech events involving other schools were not allowed.
Two days later, following the executive order of Gov. Tim Walz to close schools around the state, the MSHSL changed its stance to prohibit activities and athletics at member schools from Wednesday, March 18, through Friday, March 27. The prohibition included training, practices, scrimmages and contests.