Four high schools in Carver County plan to proceed with only varsity sports and curtail others next week in response to a state recommendation to pause youth sports for two weeks after COVID-19 case clusters of a more contagious virus were reported.
Holy Family Catholic high school in Victoria is allowing only varsity sports to proceed while mandating that all athletes get tested for COVID-19 by Sunday, the school told families in a letter Friday.
Varsity teams at Chaska and Chanhassen, both in Eastern Carver County Schools, will continue to practice and play, with additional mitigation measures and spectator restrictions, the district posted on its website.
At Waconia, where schools are on spring break, "only varsity teams cleared of COVID will be allowed to play" and home games during the week will not have fans, the district said Saturday in a message to families.
The health department urged that the two-week pause on youth sports begin Monday.
At all four schools, all non-varsity winter sports will pause practice and games, in some cases ending seasons for teams.
Waconia officials, citing the break in classes, said, "We believe that we can wait until later next week to see how the numbers look in our school district before we make any further decisions.''
Since late January, at least 68 coronavirus cases have been connected to participants in school-sponsored and club sports, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday evening. The more contagious virus variant was discovered last year in the United Kingdom.
Cases among young athletes span a number of sports including hockey, wrestling, basketball and Alpine skiing. The state also has seen case increases connected to gyms and fitness centers in Carver County, including some linked to sports-related outbreaks.
Holy Family told families that no practices or games will be held until Tuesday and indicated that varsity sports "may be paused if the circumstances and resulting data require."
Plans for sports at privately run Southwest Christian High School in Chaska could not be determined.
The discovery of the case clusters comes as high school teams and athletes are preparing for the first state tournaments — in skiing and dance team — since the pandemic shut them down last March. Postseason play also begins soon for wrestling, gymnastics, and boys' and girls' hockey and basketball.