EAST LANSING — The MHSAA Representative Council gave the green light for “low risk” sports to begin playing on their traditional start dates next month, but put off making a decision on football, volleyball and boys soccer games.

Girls golf, boys tennis, cross country and girls swimming can begin practice Aug. 12 and start competition on Aug. 19 and 21, the MHSAA said in a press release Wednesday.

However, a decision about when volleyball, football and boys soccer can start playing games will be made by Aug. 20, the MHSAA said. First football games are scheduled for Aug. 27. Volleyball and soccer are set to play first games Aug. 21.

Volleyball and boys soccer may begin practice Aug. 12. Football must delay start of practice with full pads until Aug. 17, the second week of practice; traditionally, full pads are phased in by the end of the first week.

The week of Aug. 10, football practice sesseions may include “conditioning, physical training ans skill work with no other player equipment except helmets.

“The council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it’s of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest-possible environment to return to sports, and this phased-in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made.

“The council chose to make these adjustments to help ensure our athletes have a safe regular season this fall. As we continue to solidify the regular season, we can then turn our attention to building a safe postseason for our athletes.”

The MHSAA Representative Council approved a return to play plan July 17, voting to keep its traditional fall, winter and spring seasons in tact. The MHSAA also released protocols at that time that outlined the governing body’s plans if COVID-19 forced any postponements.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had previously reccommended swapping sports where social distancing was not possible to the spring. Whitmer reimposed restrictions Wednesday due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state, closing indoor bar service where alcohol accounts for 70% of sales and limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people.

The state health department Wednesday reported two virus-related deaths and nearly 1,000 additional cases. About 300 were older results due to a backlog from a commercial lab.

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