DEWITT, Mich. — The Michigan High School Athletic Association is allowing fall playoff contests to go forward for schools that opt into a rapid COVID-19 testing pilot program.
The program is a partnership between the MHSAA and the Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services that brings rapid antigen testing into schools.
The partnership will give state health officials the opportunity to see what testing in a school environment would look like, said Geoff Kimmerly, communications director of the MHSAA.
Schools are being provided Binax Now testing cards that give students and staff their results within fifteen minutes.
Teams will be required to hold three testing sessions per week throughout the remainder of the season to be eligible for competition.
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, a senior public health physician with the state health department, said the tests provided to schools don’t require laboratory personnel.
“This can be anyone who’s gone through a training process and understands how to wear personal protective equipment, understands how to run the test, understands how to clean and disinfect the area afterwards. Anyone can run this test,” Badgasarian said.
At DeWitt High School, Athletic Director Michael Brya and members of the athletic training staff administer the tests to students. Brya doesn’t believe the testing period will carry on to winter athletic programs.
“This pilot program was put in place to finish the fall sports so it’s been communicated that there is no intention to use this for winter sports. Winter sports are able to resume on Jan. 16,” Brya said.
Not all schools in the state have embraced antigen testing.
The DeWitt Panthers were crowned regional champions for football because the Stevensville Lakeshore Lancers opted out of the playoffs with school officials expressing concern about a lack of information regarding the pilot program.
“To quote Tom Izzo, we’re not going to put an asterisk on that championship trophy. The guys have made a lot of sacrifices,” Brya said.
As for the rest of the playoffs, Brya says the Panthers aren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“You know we’re going to take it one game at a time, and we’re looking forward to our opponent on Jan. 16.”
The Panthers will face the winner of a match up between Muskegon and East Grand Rapids for the Division Three State Semifinal.