REGION — Monday, school board members unanimously approved establishing intramural and after school activities for Telstar middle and high students this winter. The decision came after the board narrowly voted 7-6 in favor of not moving forward with the regular high school winter athletic season.

Telstar is hoping to start intramurals the week of December 14, with activities being offered for both middle and high schoolers two nights of the week.  Wiffleball, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, weight room exercises, cooking and photography are some of the extracurricular choices being discussed currently, according to Telstar Principal Mark Kenney.

“We can only offer activities that we know we have adult supervision for,” Kenney said. “We need to find some adults who want to manage these activities.”

All sports/activities would take place on campus and any students involved in intramural play would have to be masked, per state guidelines.

Kenney said the plan is to have intramurals run until at least February vacation, but did not rule out having them go further into early March.

When it came to shooting down a regular sports season, multiple concerns were raised at the meeting, focusing on both basketball and alpine skiing.

“I have my worries. Our focus should be keeping our kids in school. I think introducing a sport like basketball could jeopardize that,” District Nurse Chris Cole said.

Cole had similar thoughts regarding alpine skiing.

“People will be going to a mountain where there can be all kinds of possible contact,” Cole said. “We’re not going to have any control over that.”

Overall, Cole did not recommend having a winter sports season.

“There is currently a surge in the pandemic and I do not foresee it getting better anytime soon,” Cole said.

Athletic Director Gail Wight agreed with Cole that keeping students in school should be the number one priority. “I don’t want to take sports away from them, but at the same time I don’t want them to miss out on other opportunities,” Wight said.

Member Sarah DeCato (Bethel) turned the discussion back to basketball calling the sports label as a moderate risk activity “concerning.”

“No matter how much compliance we put forth we know it’s going to be hard to monitor,” DeCato said.

If Oxford County were to return to a “yellow” classification, all sports, including intramurals, would stop.

Member Danny Whitney (Bethel) asked if there would be any COVID relief funds available to help with additional support for the sports season.

Murphy said all COVID-19 relief money needed to be expended before year’s end and that the money was not intended to be used for sports purposes. Any extra money needed would come from carryover funds.

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