REGION — Board members voted 10-3 in favor of continuing the fall athletic season despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Oxford County. Sports would only continue if Oxford County returns to its green classification.

Oxford County was recently classified as yellow, meaning currently, SAD 44 schools cannot offer any sports or other extracurricular activities. Last month, the Maine Principals Association announced in its “Return to Competition for Competitive Activities in Maine” that any schools in counties labeled yellow or red cannot hold practices or have any games.

Members Maggie Davis, Sarah DeCato and Stephanie Herbeck were opposed.

If Oxford County returns to “green,” Telstar will resume fall sports.

“I am concerned about possible spread,” member Sarah DeCato said about a possible return to fall sports.

DeCato mentioned that four schools in Rumford and Mexico recently closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the ND Paper Mill in Rumford. One of the schools that shut down was Mountain Valley High School, which plays in the same conference as Telstar.

Board member Stephanie Erickson said Telstar would not play Mountain Valley at this point, because it is currently closed.

“We are voting for our district knowing that other districts in our county are also taking the proper protocols to protect their area,” Erickson said.

DeCato said that Telstar could play Mountain Valley once they open back up.

Erickson said that since Mountain Valley closed on Monday, it would be unlikely that they play Telstar in any sport, given that the season would almost be over by the time they reopen.

“I highly doubt given that they are following the same safety protocols as the rest of the county, that they would jump right back into sports,” Erickson said. “I do not see how there is too much of a risk. We would not be playing Mountain Valley for at least 14 days, most likely longer.”

Member Danny Whitney asked Telstar Principal Mark Kenney if he had received any feedback from students with their thoughts on continuing the sports season.

Kenney said some students are nervous, while others are eager to play if the chance arises.

Director Maggie Davis thought taking a more cautious approach with sports now may work out better for students in the long run.

“I have a feeling if we polled all of last year’s seniors and asked them if they’d be willing to sacrifice their fall sports in order to have graduation, that they would sacrifice their fall sports,” Davis said.

Member Martha McLean noted that it is unlikely Oxford County will return to green by Friday, but said if the county does, she would be in favor of moving forward with athletics.

In other business, directors unanimously approved Bonnie Largess as Chairman of the Board for the following year. Largess served as the board’s chair for most of last year, after John Walker’s resignation from the position. Danny Whitney was named Vice-Chairman, defeating members David Bartlett and DeCato.

Jamie Hastings was named Vice-Chairman Pro-Tempore, defeating DeCato.

Board members heard from Representative to Region 9, Norm Clanton, who provided an update on the school. Clanton said Region 9 is currently open and that all courses are in operation.

“It’s a challenging time but we think we are serving the students the best we can,” Clanton said.

“It’s difficult enough doing remote learning on academic subjects that you can address with a laptop, it’s much more challenging for technical programs that require hands-on experiences and working with machines,” Clanton added.

Region 9 serves Dirigo, Mountain Valley and Telstar schools.

Last month, Region 9 was closed for three days after two students tested positive for COVID-19.

 


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