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The Pizza Bowl on Oct. 30 was scheduled to be the last athletic event for Princeton and Milaca due to COVID-19 cases being too high in the counties in which the schools reside. However, with new guidance from the MDE and the MDH the schools can continue to compete for now. 

Last week, Princeton and Milaca got the news that they would have to shut down their activities and sports for the next three weeks as their schooling shifted to distance learning from COVID-19 cases being too high in their counties.  This would have spelled the end of the football season for the two teams and been a big blow to the volleyball year taking away nearly all of the regular season.

But thanks to a change in the guidance provided by the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health, both schools are allowed to continue playing as of now.

The schools were initially geared up to shut down on Nov. 2, the same date they were geared to switch to distance learning.

Milaca Athletic Director Brian Julson believes this decision and change of how the data is looked at makes the most sense not only for sports but for the entire school system.  “The new guidance from MDE and MDH isn’t just a sports and activities change, it is a new way to look that the whole school system. I believe it is more of a common sense approach where we look at the data from not just the county and community, but our school community numbers as well, where we are currently doing a great job following guidance and keeping COVID-19 positive cases down,” Julson said.

Princeton Athletic Director Darin Laabs was also pleased to hear the change and that the athletes would be able to continue to compete. “I’m excited to have kids in the building and I’m excited to have them on the courts and field too,” said Laabs.

The schools will still monitor students heavily and if a positive case is found, the program will shut down for at least two weeks until deemed healthy and safe to return.

Princeton, which has had it bouts with the virus knows that COVID can strike at any time. Now getting over that initial hump, Laabs feels that Princeton is better suited to continue to play now. “We are 99.9 percent mask effective, we are social distancing, we are podded up a little tighter, we are limiting the amount of contact we have,” he said.

Though even with all the precautions, a student can still get sick. With that possibility still out there Laabs wanted to stress it isn’t the students fault if they come down with COVID. “If a kid gets sick, it isn’t their fault. It’s going to happen. We hope that the sickness isn’t going to be too severe or too long but then we will come back. We are hoping we can keep that up,” he said.

Milaca has had minimal run ins with the virus and hopes to continue down that path and limit their cases said Julson. “We need to continue to do a good job in school and keep positive cases to a minimum among staff, students, and with our transportation drivers,” he said. “We also need our community and county to do the same thing so we can keep students in the classroom and in the activities that they enjoy and enrich their education experience,” he continued.

For now, both school will continue to play and continue to fight COVID-19 cases as they arise.

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