NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education filled two coaching positions as the yet-to-be decided start of the 2020-2021 school year approaches.

The board during its July 13 regular meeting approved Christina Beushausen as seventh grade girls volleyball coach and Karen Muckey-Martinez to coach the fall cheer squad.

The board also renewed the district;s agreement with the LaPorte County Career and Technical Education Area Vocational District for another year. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said about 12 New Buffalo High School students attend the district’s A.K. Smith Center to study in fields ranging from culinary arts to automotive repair.

Leslie said decisions regarding fall sports are expected soon (see information at the end of this article).

Leslie said area superintendents have been meeting regularly to prepare for the new school year — whether it’s in-person or remote.

“A lot of this is being dictated at the state level … if our part of the state’s in phase 3 then we’re going to be doing remote learning and the kids are home. If we’re in phase 4 then we’ll be doing in-person education with the whole variety of safety precautions.”

A plan is expected to be presented to the board at its Aug. 10 meeting.

The following was included in information released by the district on July 20 regarding the 2020 graduation ceremony: New Buffalo High School is pleased to announce the ceremony for the Class of 2020 on July 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the west, high school parking lot.

As much as we would like to do otherwise, this is an invitation only event. Well-wishers will be asked to adhere to strict parking, entrance and distancing guidelines. Masks will be required.

Families received two vehicle passes. They should remain in their vehicles during the ceremony.

Following the ceremony, there will be fireworks (at the school) and a parade through New Buffalo. We anticipate the parade will begin at about 9:30.

MHSAA Fall Sports Plan

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on July 17 that its member schools are slated to begin the 2020-21 school year playing Fall sports as traditionally scheduled, but with contingency concepts for potential interruptions due to the spread of COVID-19.

The MHSAA Representative Council, the Association’s 19-member legislative body, met virtually with MHSAA staff on July 15 to discuss a series of ideas for playing sports beginning in August. The Council will meet again July 29 for further discussion. Currently, high school football practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 10, with all other Fall sports to start practice Aug. 12.

The MHSAA is moving forward with a plan that first calls for all Fall sports to be started and played as scheduled. However, if the situation deems it necessary, the start of some or all Fall sports practices or competitions could be delayed. The next step in the plan’s progression calls for lower-risk Fall sports that can be played to be completed, with higher-risk Fall sports postponed until later in the school year. If all Fall sports must be suspended, they will be rescheduled during a reconfigured calendar that would see Winter sports begin in November followed by the conclusion of Fall and Spring seasons potentially extending into July 2021.

Additionally, the Council considered a concept that would swap traditional Fall and Spring sports, but determined that was not a feasible plan. Football, girls volleyball, girls swimming & diving and boys soccer during the Fall are considered moderate or high-risk sports because they include athletes in close contact or are played indoors; they were considered the impetus for potentially switching all Fall sports to Spring. But traditional Spring sports – girls soccer and girls and boys lacrosse – carry similar risk, negating the value of making that full season switch. Moving only selected Spring sports, like all low-risk to Fall, was not considered sound because it would force student-athletes to pick between sports they’ve previously played.

Plans remain reliant on progression by schools and regions across the state according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently two regions are in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.

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