It’s been some stressful few weeks for student-athletes and their parents as they waited for the Maine Principal's Association to make a decision regarding the fall sports season.
The MPA pushed back the preseason which now begins on Sept. 8. The fall regular season begins no sooner than Sept. 18. On Thursday Aug. 27, the MPA voted unanimously for Maine schools to have a fall sports season.
The next step is waiting for guidance and input from state agencies like the Maine Department of Education (DOE), Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Governor Janet Mills’ office (just to name a few).
Beginning on Sept. 8, high school players and coaches will have their first face-to-face interaction since March. All sports were given the “okay” to play. Golf and cross country were classified as low risk for COVID-19. Soccer and field hockey were classified as moderate risk.
Football was classified as a high-risk sport by the state of Maine’s community sports guidelines and by the National Federation of High School Sports.
In an email sent from the MPA Office to MPA Schools it said, “the recommendation to move forward with the sport of football, which remains classified as a high risk activity, will be very closely monitored throughout the entire season.”
Windham varsity football coach Matt Perkins said he and the team have their fingers crossed and are hopeful there will be a season. They are all waiting to hear what comes out. It’s important for Perkins to stay positive and be a role model for the kids. The team is hoping to get a chance to play.
In that same email the MPA Office gave clarification regarding fall cheering saying they hoped to include it but needed to find a way with the mass gathering order that was currently in place.
“Maine CDC will need to approve or modify the recommendations that were made by the MPA,” said RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell. “The state will ultimately make the final decisions about whether or not the recommendations made by (the) MPA will meet what has already been put into place in the state.”
RSU 14 does not want to send mixed messages to students or the community regarding safety precautions by having different guidelines for in and out of the classroom. Howell said It would be helpful for RSU 14 to have consistent guidelines for school sponsored activities that take place during and after school.
“We’re doing the best we can to give kids and families the best directions as to what lies next, but it’s a slow, slow process,” said RSU14 Athletic Director Rich Drummond. “There is a still a lot up in the air as each district does their best to navigate this completely uncharted territory.”
As for spectators, the MPA email also said, “Organizers of community sports activities are responsible for limiting the number of individuals that can gather in a shared space in accordance with the Governor's Executive Order.”
Coaches, players, cheerleaders, officials, volunteers and spectators count toward those amounts.
The email also said, face coverings should always be worn by coaches, staff, and spectators and “if a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the three to six foot distancing requirement, occupancy in that space must be limited to allow for such compliance.”
Anything is subject to change as the state reviews the guidelines for a fall sports season. <