The worst-case scenario for the 2020 spring prep sports season is now the reality as the Minnesota State High School League has announced the cancellation of all activities and athletics for the remainder of the academic year.

The decision came on April 23 after Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-41, which closed schools for the rest of the spring semester. The decision also considered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health recommendations to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a parent of a high school senior, I understand the tremendous impact of this pandemic,” said board president Bonnie Spohn Schmaltz of Eden Valley-Watkins in a press release. “As a speech coach, team members that I have coached since seventh grade won’t see their final season culminating with the opportunity at the state tournament, including my daughter.

“Knowing these costs, I’m proud of the sacrifices competitors and coaches throughout the state are making to keep others safe.”

This cancellation applies to adapted bowling, adapted softball, badminton, baseball, clay target, golf, lacrosse, music, robotics, softball, speech, synchronized swimming, tennis, track and field and visual arts. Everything had already been suspended since March 15.

The pandemic first forced the cancellation of the adapted floor hockey tournament on March 12, and the cancellation of the remainder of girls basketball state, including the finals, and the remaining boys basketball section games and state tournament came on March 13.

The spring season was later postponed to April 6 when schools were initially closed to get ready for distance learning and then to May 4 after a two-week stay-at-home order was issued on March 25 and extended in April.

“I can understand how heartbreaking the cancellation of the spring sports and activities season is for our students,” said board member and Edina activities director Troy Stein in a press release. “Many of our students and families spend the entire year preparing for their season. Sports and activities are about so much more than the competitions and performances. They provide students with a sense of accomplishment, purpose and belonging. They also provide the community an opportunity to gather and rally around their school.

“Without that, I think it is fair to say we all feel a sense of loss.”

The league still held a digital board meeting on April 24 and discussed ways for member schools to adjust to the end of this academic year and prepare for 2020-21. There will also continue to be future communication between the league and member schools during the spring despite the cancellation, the press release said.

“This difficult decision was one we had hoped we would not need to make,” the league’s Executive Director Erich Martens said in a press release. “Our work will continue in providing leadership and guidance for our member schools and will soon turn to the summer and planning for a return to participation this fall.

“At this time, everything we can do to slow the spread and impacts of COVID-19 will help ensure the health of all, and will most certainly increase the chances that programming for students can return.”

- Anthony Iozzo

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