UPDATED: Ann Arbor Public Schools To Resume Contact Sports

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Image Credit: Ann Arbor Public Schools

Athletic programs for Saline, Dexter and Chelsea saw their already frantic dash to make the most of what remains of their winter seasons get a lot busier Tuesday evening, when Ann Arbor Public Schools made the decision to join them in resuming contact sports.

“Out of caution for the health and safety of our athletes, coaches and community, we have carefully considered all aspects of winter sports, including the benefit of the additional layer of protection provided by an antigen testing regimen. We are following the recommendations of health professionals, and have reviewed and confirmed all safety protocols,” According to the press release, which is attributed to Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice K. Swift.  

These protocols include contact tracing, using the same antigen testing for athletes that Ann Arbor used in the fall. Basketball and hockey teams will have to use a mask during practice and games, as well as being tested once a week.

Ann Arbor’s wrestlers will be able to compete without a mask, if they pass rapid antigen testing, but only when competing. They would have to wear a mask at any other time during the competition.

“The Southeastern Conference already had built our schedule so we have the schedule in place. There are a few games that will be made up but for the most part, their teams can pick up right where they left off. We are excited that all of the student athletes in the league can begin the competition,” Chelsea Athletic Director Brad Bush told the Sun Times News via email, Wednesday morning.

The rational of this is guided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which said, Sunday, that “different restrictions and mitigation measures may be needed based on the particular risk of each sport and the current rates of transmission.” Higher risk sports, like football and wrestling, require higher scrutiny than outdoor, contactless sports. Indoor sports also pose higher risks, and therefore, higher protections.

Washtenaw County has confirmed
16,063 cases and 1,095 hospitalizations of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, with another 1,561 cases and six deaths, considered probable coronavirus cases. The overall curve of cases in Michigan has been flattening in recent weeks, leading to Whitmer loosening bans on school sports from Lansing. Despite 569,980 confirmed cases and 14,965 confirmed deaths in Michigan, there is reason to feel optimistic about the pandemic in Michigan. According to the Michigan state government, daily cases have taken a nose dive since the beginning of this year, with the number of confirmed cases going form the thousands per day, to just a few hundred per day starting this month; and the numbers are only going down.

“As state numbers are down, Washtenaw numbers were still the highest in the state and we have the most numbers with the new ‘variant’ as well. All of these factors played a role as we look at safety and health first. We are back on track and will begin testing [Wednesday] and should finish very strong with our winter season sports,” Tony Whirren, the athletic director at Ann Arbor Public Schools, told the Sun Times News over email.

This new development will open up the already hectic schedule for school athletics that is trying to have as many games as possible in what remains of their seasons, in Chelsea, Saline and Dexter. They were already busy without the largess of the schools from Washtenaw County’s largest city participating in contact sports since Governor Gretchen Whitmer allowed sports to resume on February 4.

Ann Arbor’s contactless sports were already able to compete with other districts across Washtenaw County.

The athletic departments for the Dexter and Saline schools systems could not be immediately contacted for comment. This is a breaking story and The Sun Times News will update this article when more information becomes available…

Image Credit: Ann Arbor Public Schools

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