Friday, May 29, 2020

Maine Principal’s Association’s establishes guidelines for fall prep season

Add The Maine Principal’s Association has issued guidelines
for allowing prep athletes and coaches to return
to the playing field this fall. Shown is the Windham High
 School girls varsity soccer team before a game last fall.
By Matt Pascarella

As COVID-19 puts so many things in jeopardy, Maine’s Interscholastic Management Committee (IMC) and the Maine Principal’s Association (MPA) Sports Medicine Committee met on May 7 to determine what the next steps might be as summer athletics begin winding up and we begin thinking about the fall season.

Through June 13, what would be the end of the 2020 season, the MPA recommends coaches communicate with athletes in their programs to remain active and continue a healthy lifestyle.
Starting June 14 through July 5, virtual contact between coaches will be allowed. However, coaches cannot provide sport-specific recommendations regarding an athlete’s workout. July 6, both the IMC and the MPA hope to have in-person contact between athletes and coaches occur. This only happens if a set of guidelines are established that follow recommendations set up by Gov. Janet Mills, the Maine Center for Disease Control, and the Maine Department of Education. These guidelines are still in development to define what in-person instruction should look like.

The two week ‘hands-off’ period in which coaches are not allowed to contact players for the first two weeks of August has been eliminated this season.

The Sports Medicine Committee suggested a revision for a one-year period regarding pre-participation physical exams. Currently, the recommendation is that athletes have a physical every
two years.

This would allow athletes that have been previously involved in athletics, as long as they do not have a pre-existing condition, to complete the comprehensive health questionnaire used during the years between physicals. The concern here is there would be a scheduling difficulty with a physician prior to the start of the fall season.

Athletes who have never played a sport are still required to get a physical.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will have some type of a fall season, said Michael Burnham, Executive Director of the Interscholastic Division of the MPA. “We will follow all of the guidelines from our medical experts. The season may look a bit different than in the past, but if we are able to return to school in the fall we are hoping to be able to offer some co-curricular programming.”

“Things will be different as we enter a new normal for athletics,” said Rich Drummond, athletic director for RSU14. “As of right now, RSU14 is offering fall signups. “We need to assume things will be up and running; we’re not sitting on our hands.“It’s important to be patient … but also not to make rash decisions, because in three to four days that decision could be wrong,” Drummond said.

He assures parents and those with concerns to “be patient, the guidelines will come, and we’ll go from there.”

Some Windham coaches agreed.

“I do think it’s important for student’s wellbeing to have some sort of fall athletics if we can do it safely,” said varsity soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I am hopeful that at some point this summer we’ll be able to work with small groups of players (no more than 10 at a time) with multiple sessions.” 

Lebel said it will be much different than players and coaches have become accustomed to in the past.
“I think the recommendations from the MPA will definitely make it harder (than we are used to) to coach, but … safety has to come first,” Lebel said. “This summer I see as more of a conditioning and fitness where you can maintain six feet between training players.”  

There are many unknowns and as we get closer to the season. Hopefully we (as a state and a community) will have more information. Please stay tuned. <

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