Today Senator Karin Housley (R-Stillwater) sent a letter to Governor Walz asking for clarity on COVID protocol requirements for youth/high school sports.
Last week, the Hill-Murray boys hockey team played against White Bear Lake to secure a spot to the state hockey tournament. Unfortunately, there was an alleged COVID exposure during that game, forcing the Hill-Murray team into quarantine a week before the tournament was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 31. Though Hill-Murray presented a plan to play their opening game one day later, and the changes were agreed to by the opposing team, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) declined to approve play, citing postseason guidelines.
“This is an incredibly upsetting situation for all the kids involved—they’ve already faced over a year of uncertainty and now, after sports have returned to their lives and they qualified for the state tournament, it was ripped away from them,” said Sen. Housley. “Our youth sports programs have suffered from a lack of consistency regarding COVID protocol, and the kids have been left to suffer. I am urging the Governor to work with MSHSL to ensure there is a fair and public process for MSHSL to partake in when making these potentially season-ending decisions. There should be standard recommendations that span all youth sports, instead of allowing certain sports to be treated differently. If alternate routes exist for kids to finish out their seasons safely, those should be given consideration, even if it means implementing a strategy for allowing rapid tests to be done on athletes the morning of games.”
When Hill-Murray found out about the possible positive COVID test, school officials spent days reviewing statutes and orders to ensure they were adhering to proper guidance and protocol. School officials also met with health department officials to review the video from the game. It was ultimately found that the infected player had close contact for no more than four seconds with any one player, while wearing a facemask. Hill-Murray was provided one alternate option from the MSHSL—to play only “with eligible student athletes who are not subject to quarantine.” Since Hill-Murray’s junior varsity team had already ended its season, this was not a viable option.
“As a hockey mom, I know how much these sports and tournaments mean to our kids, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see their dreams crushed so easily. Not only am I calling on the Governor to step into this discussion, but I have also asked the Senate Education Committee Chair, Senator Roger Chamberlain, to have a hearing on the issue. Sen. Chamberlain agreed that a hearing is necessary to further understand MSHSL’s decision making process,” finished Sen. Housley.