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High school sports are on their way back.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association decided Thursday to let teams resume athletic activities starting June 1. However, teams will not be allowed to compete against each other this summer.

The MHSAA executive committee met for more than five hours via teleconference to determine whether it should stick to the June 1 restart date that was set in mid-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All high school athletic competition and related activities have been suspended since March 16.

When they return to work in June, teams must follow any orders handed down by state and local government as well as their school regarding COVID-19 precautions. That could mean limiting the number of athletes working out or practicing at the same time.

With Thursday’s decision, athletes and coaches can soon come together at school athletic facilities for workouts and practices, although there will be a two-week acclimation period.

The first week back, athletes will be allowed to lift weights once a day for two hours at 50% capacity. The second week, they can lift once a day for two hours at increased capacity.

There will be no inter-squad competition – such as summer league basketball or 7-on-7 football – allowed before the start of the 2020-21 athletic year. That’s due to certain areas of the state still being hotspots for the coronavirus.

However, instrasquad practices and scrimmages are permitted.

Football teams will be allowed to hold intrasquad 7-on-7 practices and scrimmages. It will be the first on-field action for teams since last season, as the pandemic wiped out spring drills.

Preseason drills are scheduled to begin Aug. 3, with the 2020 season set to kick off Aug. 20-21.

“As we stand right now, I am fully planning on having a regular football season,” MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said. “If they say we can’t have people in stands, I don’t think our schools would be able to afford to have it.”

Preseason practices for cross country, swimming and volleyball begin July 27.

brad.locke@journalinc.com

Twitter: @bradlocke

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