A Minnesota school board defied state guidance by voting to continue fall sports and extracurricular activities on Monday.
According to StarTribune, the Anoka-Hennepin school board voted to proceed with middle and high school sports and extracurriculars, going against state guidance that school districts shifting to remote learning because of COVID-19 should halt sports and extracurricular activities.
The 5-1 vote came days after the Anoka-Hennepin school district, the largest in Minnesota, announced its transition from hybrid to distance learning starting on Nov. 4 amid a recent surge of positive coronavirus cases in the area. The district also announced that sports would be put on hold beginning on Nov. 2.
Anoka-Hennepin district leaders followed state guidelines in shifting to remote learning after an uptick of COVID-19 cases in Anoka County. State guidance also stated that “school athletics and activities should be conducted virtually in counties that reach this level of spread.” Parents and students attended the Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting on Monday night in an effort to persuade the board to allow sports and extracurricular activities to continue.
Anoka-Hennepin spokesman Jim Skelly said that the district will follow the school board’s direction following its vote. However, the school board vote came as a “surprise,” as it was not on the meeting agenda entering Monday night. State agencies had communicated with Anoka-Hennepin that it needed to put sports and extracurricular activities on hold. Anoka-Hennepin has since asked the district to communicate its vote to the state.
“We wouldn’t have made an announcement of this caliber without some direct communication on this,” Skelly said.
According to Minnesota infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann, sporting events have been associated with 3,410 known coronavirus infections, or 2.5% of the state’s total. The total includes 593 people involved in high school athletics. In the past week alone, there were two confirmed outbreaks associated with high school soccer and volleyball.