Parents confused as some schools adopt COVID sporting event policies while others don't

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 17:43:28-05

(WXYZ) — Winter high school sports are facing an uncertain future as COVID cases soar in Michigan.

This time last year winter sports were put on pause and didn't pick back up until February.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently released recommendations directing schools to limit capacity to 100 people at after-hour events. Some districts including Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, and Farmington have adopted the guidelines. Other districts like Novi and counties like Eaton have not.

The capacity restrictions on indoor sporting events are in addition to mandatory masking and in some cases, weekly testing for student-athletes.

"It's controversial, I understand the reasons why they want to do it, but I just don't really see the impact of it," said Asheida Williams, whose son plays basketball at North Farmington High school.

Basketball, being an indoor sport, was one of the hardest-hit last year when COVID infections started to spike.

Williams said her son Landon missed out on a big opportunity.

"We had several members of the team who had COVID at the time, so we forfeited possibly being state champs last year because of COVID."

Mark Uyl, director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association says protecting this year's season is a must for him and his colleagues.

"We have to figure out how we can continue to educate our kids, how we can continue to give our kids some opportunities to be active to be healthy, to be engaged with different programs," said Uyl, "we've really had to figure out how to co-exist with this virus."

Williams says the new two-spectator per player is frustrating for her and her husband who have a big family.

"Last year everything was public, you know it was on YouTube, but now they are not recording the games they are not streaming them and it's only going to be the two spectators," she said.

"That poses a problem for us," she added.

Uyl says without a statewide mandate, there's a lot of incontinency and policies vary from district to district.

"What the last two years have shown us is you have to look at what your situation is currently, you have to be very flexible and be willing to adapt very, very quickly," said Uyl.

Williams says the policy doesn't make sense if it isn't universal.

"If we are playing at North, we wouldn't be able to come, but maybe if we are playing at Rochester we can go to that game so what's the difference? they are still facing the same amount of exposure either way," said Williams.

Williams says her son is more at risk when he's in school. In fact, she says he caught COVID recently from another student, but it was an asymptomatic infection.

The only reason he found out was because his team requires athletes to get tested weekly.

"We would have never known," said Williams.

She and her husband think if people are masking at games and in their family's case, fully vaccinated, then there should be no limit on capacity.

Uyl says the varying policies may cause a problem when it's time to schedule tournaments especially if capacity limits are only imposed on one end.

"It's been our approach since day one that we will work with our schools that any state-wide order or mandate is being followed and currently MDHHS has no requirement," he added.