North Dakota pauses winter prep sports until Dec. 14; volleyball and girls swimming allowed to finish season
North Dakota winter prep sports are on pause until Dec. 14, Gov. Doug Burgum announced Friday night in one of several sweeping changes in the face of the state's COVID-19 outbreak, which is the worst in the country.
The shutdown includes all extracurricular K-12 school activities and applies to all association, community and club sports for youth and adults.
The state will allow fall sports to complete their upcoming championships, though.
The state girls swimming meet is scheduled for Saturday in Bismarck with both morning and afternoon sessions. The state Class A and B volleyball tournaments are set to be played in the Fargodome next Thursday through Saturday.
Burgum said the four-week pause in activities are designed to help keep schools open to in-person instruction.
The state's announcement said college activities "must follow guidance from the North Dakota University System and their respective national organizations."
After shutting down prep sports in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, North Dakota returned in the fall with pandemic guidelines.
Cancelations and schedule alterations have been frequent in both the Grand Forks region and around the state. Some sports teams had to drop out of their state tournaments due to outbreaks on their team.
The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dramatically increased in the last two months and hospitals are reaching full capacity. According to the New York Times coronavirus tracker, North Dakota has by far the most deaths per capita in the nation over the last week. It has twice as many as South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Earlier in the week, Burgum moved every county in the state to "high risk" designation.
Winter sports had not yet started competition in North Dakota.