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After state suggests limiting size of group gatherings, MHSAA cancels all postseason events

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Updated Thursday, March 12 at 3:32 p.m.:

On Thursday afternoon, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) suspended postseason events indefinitely. This includes the ice hockey, girls gymnastics, and lower peninsula boys swimming and diving finals, which were scheduled for this weekend.

Additionally canceled are the girls and boys basketball tournaments, which were midway through early rounds of playoff progressions. 

"Based on the events of the last 48 hours and with things changing by the minute, we believe we have no choice but to suspend our winter tournaments immediately," MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. "This is a suspension until we have a better handle on the situation. The health and welfare of everyone involved is our number one priority."

According to the press release, "no timetable has been determined for possible rescheduling for tournaments." More information will become available over the next few days.

Original post: Thursday, March 12 at 12:03 p.m.:

State health officials are recommending strategies to schools on how to slow the spread of coronavirus disease in Michigan. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued interim guidelines on Wednesday. The guidelines may be updated because of the fluidity of the situation.

The top recommendations are familiar ones applicable in all settings. They include encouraging people to stay home when they are sick and reinforcing the best ways to wash hands and cover coughs and sneezes.

The guidelines also urge schools to consider various ways to reduce larger congregations of students. One suggestion is having students eat meals in their classrooms or alter meal schedules for smaller group gatherings. Another is to limit inter-school interactions and to limit large gatherings within schools like assemblies. They also suggest altering schedules for recess and the start and end of the school day to decrease the mixing of large groups of students and staff.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that its postseason March 12-14 tournaments will take place as scheduled. But attendance will be restricted while online live streaming of finals will be provided. 

The MHSAA says it is basing the attendance restrictions on state officials' recommendations to limit the size of gatherings.

The MHSSA restrictions range from no spectators at events with the highest number of participants to limiting attendance at others to parents, legal guardians, and essential administrators.

Bands, cheerleader, and other gatherings in parking lots or elsewhere on-site will not be allowed, according to the MHSAA. Online tickets have been stopped, and refunds will be available for already purchased tickets.

"While this is unfortunate for many reasons, we intend to do everything possible to allow our students who have earned the opportunities to compete at these highest levels to do so," said MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl in a written statement. "However we also take seriously our responsibility to help slow the spread of this disease."

You can find detailed information about the specific athletic events here.

The MHSAA says updates will be announced on Monday, March 16, for the remainder of the girls and boys basketball tournaments. 

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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