Madison School District Opting out of Winter Sports; Not Moving Forward with Alternate Fall Season Until In-Person Instruction Resumes

The Madison Metropolitan School District has decided to not participate in winter sports,citing conditions that are unsafe for athletics to resume. In a letter from the district’s athletic director to parents, students, and the community, the district also shared it will wait for making a decision on participating in the alternate spring sports season.

The school district’s letter is shared below:

Hello MMSD Athletics Community,

Throughout the 2020/21 school year, districts across the country have faced multiple challenges in planning a safe continuation of robust athletic programs for the benefit of students.  In MMSD, education-based athletics play a significant role in the culture and communities of our schools, and the lives of many hard-working and dedicated student-athletes.

Throughout this pandemic, MMSD has relied on guidance from Public Health, Madison & Dane County in addition to close analysis of metrics related to the current state of COVID-19 locally to inform our decisions.  Last week, MMSD announced its plan to continue with a virtual instruction model, as current metrics do not support a safe return of students into our school buildings.

With consideration of current metrics, and our responsibility to keep students, staff, and communities safe, MMSD athletics will follow the lead of our current instructional model and continue with athletics virtually at this time.  Similar to our instructional model, when COVID-19 conditions improve and metrics support a safe return to our buildings, MMSD will implement plans for a thoughtful and safe return of athletics to an in-person model.  

MMSD will implement these additional extra curricular provisions for winter and alternate season fall sports until the safe reopening of our schools is possible: 

1) Virtual training activities will be shared for student-athletes. Individual training or workouts will be shared for asynchronous training or scheduled on a virtual platform (Zoom, Google Meet, etc) for synchronous training. Activities such as stretching, flexibility, and warm-up routines, strength and speed training, conditioning, and mental preparation/sport psychology resources – so long as they follow WIAA Coaching Contact Rules in content and presentation – will be made available. 

2) MMSD will not be offering winter sport in-person coaching, in-person practices, or competitions during the virtual school model. We will continue to provide opportunities in whatever means are available based on our schooling model and public health guidance as well as WIAA guidance for winter sports. Additionally, the Big 8 Conference has issued a statement regarding winter sports at a conference level.  

We have requested accommodations from the WIAA to address alternative and additional contact calendars and flexibility regarding student engagement – we will share additional information when a decision is made.

3) Based on the WIAA calendar and district decisions, MMSD athletics will not begin in-person contact for alternate season fall sports until in-person instruction resumes at the high school level.  The district will continue its planning for an eventual return to in-person education-based athletics.  In addition, our planning also includes:

District athletic programs will continue to provide resources for virtual platforms and best practices to assist in continuing MMSD’s quality education-based athletic programs. These resources will also support our planning for a return to in-person athletics when it is determined safe to do so.  In the upcoming weeks, your school’s athletic department will be providing additional information related to virtual opportunities.  

We appreciate how these difficult decisions impact students in different ways. Athletics are a vital component of the community and its connectivity, while also serving as an extension of the classroom.  We also understand families and coaches want what is best for our student-athletes and programs, and we share in their desire to eventually return our athletics to an in-person model.   

We have great appreciation for the hard work, guidance and support provided from our coaches, administrators, student athletes, and public health partners, which has helped us navigate a school year we will not soon forget.  Your collaborative effort has resulted in innovative strategies to address the challenge of staying connected in meaningful ways during this pandemic.  

We will continue to gather information and provide clarifications as information is made available.  We are grateful for your commitment and passion for our students, and your athletic programs.   

Even though this situation is not ideal, we will get through this together.  We ask you to continue to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, be kind, stay connected, have empathy, support each other, and stay together when physically apart.

Be well and stay well,

Jeremy Schlitz, CAA
MMSD athletics

We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!

David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]