Lakers Athletics Cleared To Resume Practice, Competition

Lakers Athletics Cleared To Resume Practice, Competition Click to Enlarge

It's been a roller coaster 72 hours for Detroit Lakes Athletics Director Rob Nielsen.

"72 hours? More like six months!" joked Nielsen.

With the news breaking Sunday afternoon that a DLHS staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of classes resuming, school leadership made the decision to transition the high school to the full distance learning model. That included the postponement of all Lakers activities, including athletic practices and competition.

"A big challenge with what happened was it happening over the weekend," Nielsen told KDLM. "There are communication challenges that come with that. Essentially, the original thing was getting through all the contact tracing and figure out how wide-spread this is. We knew that we wouldn't be able to have that done by the end of the day Monday. The thing that changed was the realization that we're making a choice to go with the distance learning model with the challenges with staff that we're involved with...trying to have teachers in front of kids."

But now, with contact tracing figured out, Nielsen with guidance from the MDH and the State High School League have allowed DLHS to resume practice and play.

"There have been a number of schools in the distance learning model that did that by choice, and moving to distance learning was our choice. It wasn't dictated by the metrics or the number of positive cases in the county. It was dictated by having staff in the building for kids. Once that was clear, it made sense to resume practices and competition. Nine other school districts across the state are doing this...a lot of metro schools are doing distance learning and are still participating in extra curricular activities. It wasn't an unprecedented decision. It was just a matter of working through everything and making sure that the decision made sense based on what we have for our own situation here."

With the decision, all Lakers activities are cleared to resume effective immediately. The home tennis meet with Crosby-Ironton scheduled for today (Tuesday) was already postponed and leadership is working on rescheduling. The challenge there is that teams, under MSHSL guidelines, are only allowed to compete twice a week.

"There are fewer opportunities to compete this year," says Nielsen. "I think everybody is pretty excited that we're going to have opportunities because we did wonder for a while. Then we get it back, then snatched away. It's been a real challenge for our kids and our coaches, but they have all remained optimistic and been patient and have really trusted in the process and in our administration to make decisions that were kid-centered and I think that is we always try to do. I can't say enough about anybody involved. People were very patient and understanding. We had people reach out and ask what they could do to make sure things happened. It was all in a positive manner and I can't say how much I appreciate that. If there's anything in this time that is really important, it's to have the support of our community and for the kids to know that the community is positive and supportive."

All Lakers fall sports are in action on Thursday: tennis at Thief River Falls, Cross Country vs Otter Tail Central and Bertha-Hewitt, Swim and Dive at Perham, Boys Soccer at East Grand Forks and Girls Soccer vs East Grand Forks.


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