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How one state is navigating the return-to-play process

Across this great land, school administrators are making decisions about the fall semester, seemingly by the hour. Whether to hold classes in-person or online, whether to offer extracurricular activities or not, are extremely fraught -- weighing an aimless, futile, largely wasted semester on one side, and the possibility of students, staff or family members on a ventilator on the other.

Naturally, with the stakes so high, you're bound to get a variance of opinions, not only from state to state, but district to district and person to person. Any decision, no matter how deeply considered and well explained, is bound to enrage a sizable chunk of the population, and if that's not enough, there's no higher authority waiting at the end of this dark tunnel to tell the decision-maker whether their decision was the right one.

We're all grasping for straws in the dark here.

All that understood, information is the best weapon we have against the coronavirus and its fallout, and it's helpful to see how others are approaching this all-encompassing problem. Virginia and New Mexico have opted out of a fall football season, while Utah is trudging forward. Other dominoes are falling, seemingly by the second.

Missouri has released its guidelines and recommendations for re-opening extracurricular activities, which can be viewed here. The document runs eight pages, but I thought the most important passage was what you'll see written below, a necessary reminder of why extracurriculars exist in the first place and what students stand to lose if they are not offered this fall.

"The physical and psychosocial benefits of education-based activity participation are numerous. Students who participate in school activities learn life lessons in an environment that cannot be duplicated. The academic achievements, social and leadership skills, as well as overall mental health are known to be greatly enhanced in students who participate in a school activity compared to those who do not. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in thousands of Missouri students missing out on these life-shaping educational experiences over the past several months."

Missouri also laid out a 15-point plan for handling masks, hydration, transportation and social distancing at events.

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As for the staging of events, this is what Missouri has to say:

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Obviously, every state, every district's decision is their own. But as every school administrator in the country grapples with the exact same decision, it's helpful to see one state's conclusions, as well as how they got there.