In what might be a sign of things to come, the school board of the Owatonna Public Schools announced a delay to the start of winter sports during a special meeting on Friday, November 13. The district moved to distance learning for grades 6-12 on Tuesday, November 17. Elementary students will begin distance learning the week of November 23.

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As reported by the Star Tribune, governor Walz and health officials are leaning toward more restrictions. The article says, "State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said sports are responsible for 10% of all COVID-19 cases in schools and for a southern Minnesota school and a central Minnesota school district reverting to online instruction."

A press release from the Owatonna School District, dated November 13, states, "the start of winter high school activities will be delayed until a later date when it is deemed safe for our students, coaches and advisors to return. All middle school activities will be suspended starting Monday, November 16 until further notice."

Fall sports are being allowed to continue through at least November 21. The football season will end Tuesday, November 17 with a section championship game against Rochester Mayo at 7 pm at the OHS field.

Superintendent Jeff Elstad commented during a virtual "Coffee and Conversation" event on November 13 that some of the Huskies opponents are ceasing their fall sports season. The Rochester schools and Northfield are all ending sports this week, leading to the adjusted football playoff schedule.

OHS volleyball has matches scheduled through November 24 with playoffs beginning after that. However, peaking at the Big Nine volleyball schedule, most matches are shown as canceled. Sections are scheduled to begin December 1.

Dance was scheduled to start practice on November 7. Boys hockey and boys basketball is scheduled to start across the state on November 23. Practice would open for wrestling, girls hockey, and boys swimming on November 30. Gymnastics and girls basketball is slated to start December 7.

The news release from the Owatonna district indicates, "The date of return to winter activities will be based on COVID-19 data shared by the Minnesota Department of Health, Steele County Public Health, and/or other state agencies."

Among other nearby districts, Blooming Prairie has also announced a hold on winter activities. The Medford, NRHEG, and Triton districts were still moving forward with the idea of starting winter sports on time.

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