AUGUSTA – The Maine Principals’ Association, the Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine School Boards Association, and the Mills Administration issued the following statements today after reaching agreement on a schedule for winter school sports, which supports students, their families and school communities in planning for the season while guidance for winter sports is finalized.
The MPA continues to update its “School Sports Guidance: Return to Competition for Competitive Athletics and Activities in Maine” for winter sports and will be issuing requirements applicable to particular sports in the coming weeks. The guidance will include the requirement that participants in school sports wear face coverings during practices and competition, in line with Governor Mills’ new Executive Order. This requirement takes effect today for the remaining fall school sports season. The COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for Community Sports has been updated to reflect the same schedule, recommendations, and requirements. It, too, is effective today.
As with fall sports, specific sports are categorized as low, medium, or high risk and assigned corresponding levels of play. The six levels of play are assigned based on the activity level’s own risk (ranging from skill building to competition), protocols to allow activity to happen safely, and circumstances with COVID-19 in Maine. The winter sports start dates for these levels are as follows:
- December 7, 2020: Level 1: Skills and drills sessions at home, alone or with household members
- December 14, 2020: Level 2-3: Practices and competitions (e.g. intra-squad scrimmages) within teams
- January 11, 2021: Level 4: Competition among teams from the same geographic area
The start dates of December 7 and January 11 allow for time to pass after holidays when people may be travelling or at gatherings that increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. Start dates for Levels 5 and 6 of competition will be determined in January. The January 11 start date for Level 4 competition will also be reviewed in early January based upon the status of the public health situation at that time. This winter sports schedule is similar to that adopted by Vermont and New Hampshire.
“We are pleased to have worked collaboratively with the various stakeholders to provide an opportunity for winter activities to take place in Maine,” said Mike Burnham, Executive Director of the Maine Principals’ Association. “We understand the importance that these activities are to the health and well-being of our students, their families, and their communities. The alignment with the Community Sport Guidelines gives all groups a chance to work together to provide programs that are meaningful for the young people in our state. These guidelines will also allow for the sport of volleyball to have an indoor season at some point this winter/spring.
“We are grateful to the MPA, the Maine School Superintendents Association, and the Maine School Boards Association for their continued collaboration,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “This schedule allows students, their families and school communities to plan for a winter sports season that prioritizes the health and safety of Maine students, school staff, and communities.”
“The MSBA Board of Directors supports the plan,” said MSBA Executive Director Steven Bailey. “We understand how important sports are not just to the players but to the school community. Face coverings are the new normal and the best strategy for allowing sports to continue and for keeping schools open, along with allowing no spectators within competitions. While disappointing to both fans and players, it is critical to the success of schools remaining the place where spread does not happen. We need for schools to remain the safe place so that we are able to remain in yellow, heading to green.”
“The MSSA Executive Committee supports the recommendations for moving forward with the winter sports schedule and appreciates the safety precautions of mandatory use of face coverings and that no spectators will be allowed for inside competition,” said Eileen King, Executive Director of the Maine School Superintendents Association. “We also thank the MPA for their strong language mandating the suspension of sports if a county is defined as yellow.”
The Maine Principals’ Association is a professional association representing Maine’s K-12 principals, assistant principals, and career and technology center directors. The Association dates back to 1921 and focuses its work on promoting the principalship, supporting principals as educational leaders, and promoting and administering interscholastic activities in grades 9-12.