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MHSAA decision on high school sports expected Wednesday

High school sports in Mississippi might be down to its final out for the 2019-20 school year.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday that Mississippi’s public school buildings and facilities will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Mississippi High School Activities Association has not yet officially canceled competition, it issued a statement Tuesday evening saying that it will make a decision Wednesday about its plans moving forward.

A conference call with the MHSAA’s executive committee and administrators has been scheduled for Wednesday morning.

“Our MHSAA Executive Committee of school administrators will review the governor’s decision and an official announcement will be forthcoming regarding athletics and activities being cancelled for the rest of the academic year. We hope to share an update Wednesday,” MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said in a statement.

The MHSAA suspended all competition and practices on March 19. It has followed the governor’s updated decisions to keep schools closed, the latest of which was set to expire at the end of this week.

Per MHSAA policy, no athletics or activities are allowed to take place while schools are closed.

Hinton said in early April that he remained hopeful schools would remain open, and that high school athletics could resume at some point this spring. The MHSAA has been drafting plans in recent weeks for a return to competition in late April or May if that was the case.

The latest decision by the governor might make it impossible, however. Reeves said Tuesday that distance learning and online classes will continue but buildings will stay closed and traditional classes will not meet.
That would seem to also prevent team sports like baseball and softball from playing.

“The MHSAA has remained in contact with state education officials during this situation,” Hinton said in the MHSAA’s release. “It was clear that the statewide closure of schools for the spring semester was a possibility and that obviously impacts athletics and activities.”

The MHSAA governs athletics and activities at more than 200 of Mississippi’s public high schools. The Mid-South Association of Independent Schools does the same at 123 private schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The MAIS has been taking a week to week approach while restrictions on large gatherings and other orders from the state government were put in place. It has not yet announced whether it will allow member schools to reopen when the governor’s shelter in place order expires on April 20, or whether sports and activities might still resume this spring.

A message left for MAIS executive director Shane Blanton on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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