Moose Lake Willow River Athletic Cooperative Board has reversed their decision to not hold practices or games for fall sports if either school is in the hybrid learning model.
The decision to suspend practices and games was unanimously passed on August 12, prior to the Minnesota State High School League decision to allow for football and volleyball to have limited season during their traditional fall timeframe. This was a decision to voluntarily postpone practices and games during high restriction learning levels.
Reversing this decision on September 25 was an eight to three vote. The board determined that while the districts are in hybrid learning practice and games will continue. This decision was not made lightly, extensive consideration of both staff and community concerns were undertaken by the board.
Some of the biggest areas of concern raised by members of the cooperative were the continued prioritization of safety for students and staff. Willow River Superintendent Bill Peel expressed his concerns over safety to the board during the discussion citing the rise in case numbers with students now attending school in person.
Within the original motion, the cooperative agreed that athletics would proceed with requirements for whichever district was in the most restrictive learning model for either district. The increase in COVID cases have pushed both districts into hybrid learning models, if either would to distance learning athletics would follow that protocol for both schools.
Statements from several parents were read during the meeting, the consensus being that they wanted the decision revised. Several cooperative board members agreed that the parents were aware of the risks in sending their children to extracurriculars and that they seemed to be willing to take the risks. Participation in extracurriculars is voluntary, as was pointed out by several board members.
Concerns over the mental health impact that further limiting extracurricular participation were raised by multiple board members. Normalcy was the secondary goal to student safety for the board. Several members echoed community member concerns that the loss of extracurriculars would have a negative impact on the mental health of students.
A brief discussion of creating a type of hybrid practice/game schedule was undertaken. The difficulty of creating this and the need to fit with what other area districts are planning for competition purposes made this option not feasible. Safety procedures for volleyball and football were discussed and all coaches felt that students were making safety a priority. Kelly Swanstrom, volleyball coach, let the board know that at first she was nervous but that the girls have all done well.
Fall practices and games will continue as scheduled while the districts are in hybrid learning models.
Spectators for volleyball will not be allowed, games will be livestreamed with more details to come.
Football spectators will be limited to player family members and limited to 250 persons. No concessions will be offered. Tickets will be sold presale only and no money will change hands at the field entrance. Senior players will get four tickets, with all remaining 9th to 11th graders getting three tickets each. The Cheerleading squad will get 10 total tickets. An admission list will be created from these ticket after payment has been made. No one will be admitted without their name being on the Admittance List. Visiting fan tickets will be limited to 90 persons and distribution will be left up to the visiting team.