Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 3, 2020
Fall athletics indefinitely postponed at GSA
by Benjamin Truesdale
Leaders and representatives from George Stevens Academy have announced they will not follow the Maine Principals’ Association’s latest guidelines for reopening team sports this fall. Instead, they will continue to wait for updates and guidance from Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and Center for Disease Control. All fall sports are indefinitely postponed, GSA Head of School Tim Seeley said.
“Sports are important, but we can’t risk our kids’ lives,” Seeley said. In this, he follows the latest cautionary announcements from DHHS and DOE as they continue to study the risks of playing team sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 27, the MPA Interscholastic Management Committee published a collection of guidelines, “Return to Competition for Competitive Athletics and Activities in Maine.” This highly detailed document, released following a unanimous committee vote to publish it, categorically outlined a series of best practices for Maine schools in resuming interscholastic sports.
But in a joint response to the MPA, DHHS commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and DOE commissioner Pender Maki informed the MPA that their latest statements were released too prematurely. “Our public health experts do not recommend adopting the MPA Guidance,” they wrote in their September 1 letter. “The MPA Guidance is designed specifically for sports in schools. However, it does not explicitly reference the Maine DOE requirements and recommendations for schools or school district plans for reopening.”
Seeley agrees the MPA made its statement too early. “This all should have been reviewed. And we’ll continue to wait for the DOE’s guidelines,” he said. “We’re a private school, but we have public students, and we can’t act independently even if we wanted to.
“We simply can’t have cases where our athletes, any of our athletes, are put at risk. And everyone mixes in school, so everyone is at risk. If there is a single case of COVID-19 on campus, we’ll have to return to remote learning entirely.”