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The Montana High School Association has released its guidelines to return to fall activities.

The announcement came on Monday morning, highlighting the directives, requirements and considerations for schools to compete in activities this fall.

MHSA executive director Mark Beckman sent the guidelines to schools across Montana, less than three weeks before high school activities are scheduled to begin.

The fall practices will start in about two weeks, depending on which sport.

Golf practices are scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 13, while football, volleyball, soccer and cross country will begin the following day. Golf tournaments can be held as early as Saturday, Aug. 15, while the other sports can hold competitions on Thursday, Aug. 27.

According to the MHSA release, the guidelines were established following consultation with national, state and local experts, including the Center for Disease Control, the National Federation of High School Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), and Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s directives, plus state and local health departments.

The MHSA has deemed that the “resumption of sports and other activities is crucial to the growth, development and mental and emotional wellness of our Montana youth,” the organization said in Monday’s letter to schools.

Schools must adhere to the MHSA guidelines, as well as directives from the state and local health departments, in order for the resumption of sports in Montana. The MHSA has created five tiers for its return to sports, with Tier 1 planning to start as scheduled. As the tiers progress, more and more changes would be made to the activities, including the cancellation of non-conference games, shortening conference seasons and, eventually, playing some games, potentially round robin play, in Tier 5.

The lone cancellation to date is the all-state band, choir and orchestra music festival, which was scheduled for Oct. 14-16. It will not be rescheduled during the 2020-21 school year.

Each sport also has specific guidelines and requirements regarding competition, the letter explained.

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