Youth sports resumed practices Jan. 4 and will look to allow games to take place 10 days later, Jan. 14.

The State of Minnesota updated its guidance for youth sports organizations through the Return to Play program on Monday, Dec. 28 setting the stage for sports to begin or resume the 2020-21 winter season.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Gov. Tim Walz Executive Order 20-103 does not apply to professional or intercollegiate sports programs.

Practices for organized youth and adult sports were allowed to resume Jan. 4 with pods of no more than 25 people without spectators. A parent or guardian is allowed inside the facility due to the participant’s age, disability or medical condition.

Games/matches/meets/scrimmages may begin Thursday, Jan. 14 with further guidance to be released.

One common theme to get back to play is a requirement for all to wear a face covering, including participants.

An exception to the rule comes into play when a face covering might become a choking hazard.

Gymnasts, cheerleaders, wrestlers and those in water sports are not required to wear a face mask while participating.

Minnesota State High School League Executive Director Erich Martens issued a statement Dec 28.

“These experiences are so important to students and they have been anxiously waiting to get these winter seasons started,” Martens wrote. “By implementing these safety protocols recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and required by the Minnesota Department of Health, we have the best chance to provide safe seasons with reduced interruptions and also plan for full postseason experiences.”

Practice recommendations, from MDH, include moving outdoors whenever possible and limit indoor practices to 30 minutes or less; avoiding carpooling and using locker rooms and facility showers; and limiting social interactions to 15 people from no more than three households.

Businesses and youth sports programs are required to develop a program-specific plan to follow the parameters outlined in the COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Youth and Student Programs.

Protocols remain in place for exposure to COVID-19 including those who spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of someone who is infectious or had direct physical contact with an infected person. A 14-day quarantine is recommended for those exposed to COVID-19 but in some circumstances, a shortened quarantine period is possible. Those infected need to stay out for 10 days from first noticing symptoms.

In general, practices or games do not need to be canceled with a case on your team. It is recommended to contact MDH/LPH to determine the necessary next steps.

Traditional team photos are discouraged as standing close together is a high-risk activity. Alternative ideas include going outdoors or taking individual shots and editing them together afterward.

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