On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League announced the cancellation of all remaining activities, including sports, for the rest of the 2019-20 school year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision comes on the heels of Executive Order 20-41, issued by Gov. Tim Walz earlier Thursday, which extended the current distance learning period through the remainder of the year.

"This difficult decision was one we had hoped we would not need to make," league executive director Erich Martens said in a statement. "Our activities and athletics offer so much to so many students and their school communities, and we thank all who work to provide these amazing opportunities for students. We also value the incredible benefits of strong and supportive connections between students and their coaches and administrators, and our hope is that these will continue even during this time when they are not able to participate or meet face to face."

The league's Board of Directors is scheduled to hold its regular meeting via digital communication Friday to further discuss ways to work with member schools as they complete the academic year and look toward next year.

"Our work will continue in providing leadership and guidance for our member schools and will soon turn to the summer in planning for a return to participation this fall," Martens said. "At this time, everything we can do to slow the spread and impacts of COVID-19 will help ensure the health of all, and will most certainly increase the chances that programming for students can return."

The MSHSL first suspended all activities on March 15. The original suspension ran through March 27, but was made indefinite on March 25. On Thursday, it became permanent.

"I can understand how heartbreaking the cancellation of the spring sports and activities season is for our students," said board member Troy Stein, the activities director at Edina High School. "Many of our students and families spend the entire year preparing for the season. Sports and activities are about so much more than the competitions and performances. They provide students with a sense of accomplishment, purpose and belonging. They also provide the community an opportunity to gather and rally around their school. Without that, I think it is fair to say we all feel a sense of loss."

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