JAY — Thursday, Dec. 10, Regional School Unit 73 directors voted seven to five not to allow winter sports.

Spruce Mountain High School Athletic Director Marc Keller said based on the Maine Principals’ Association guidelines, the district could effectively and safely have student athletes participate.

“MPA did a survey on fall sports,” Keller said. “73% of schools participating reported back. Out of more than 13,000 participants, there were only 10 positive COVID-19 cases. Those are extremely low numbers.”

Superintendent Scott Albert said he was not in favor of allowing fall sports because of the many unknowns at the beginning of the school year and that the MPA hadn’t stepped up to pass the straight-face test.

Golf and cross country were the only fall sports the district approved for interscholastic competition.

“Looking at the guidelines, I think we can keep our students safe,” Albert said. “There is a good chance the season could be very short.”


The district would be under Franklin County, not Androscoggin if winter sports are approved, he said. Two schools are in Franklin County and Androscoggin’s yellow designation is based on Lewiston/Auburn not Livermore/Livermore Falls, he added.

“I support this,” Director Andrew Sylvester said, “I’m tired of seeing kids stay home. I don’t think we should try to restrict you. Kids and parents need a chance to participate.”

Director Lynn Ouellette asked for an explanation on how basketball could be played safely with social distancing.

“When you talk about close contact, it’s 15 minutes of contact to be considered close contact,” Keller said. “Everyone will be required to wear masks throughout the entire contest.”

Examples of changes this year include tossing a coin rather than jumping for the ball to start the game and maintaining three feet of space between athletes and six feet from adults for the majority of the time.

Keller also was asked to provide the guidelines for those in the community that might not have seen them.


There will be no spectators at any events, with a maximum 50 people at indoor and 100 at outdoor events, he said.

There will be no sideline cheering; instead teams will record their performance for the virtual state competition, Keller explained. The stunting has been changed, there will be no pyramids or vocalization during the competition, he added.

For Alpine skiing there is a lot less chance for close contact while there may be a bit with Nordic skiing, Keller noted.

Minor rule changes in ice hockey have been implemented so there will be less close contact, and wrestling won’t take place until the end of February since it is in the same category as football, he said.

“If the district is totally remote, students would not be playing sports,” Albert said when asked about the district’s current status.

“All bulletins are always posted to the public and have been on social media,” community member Cherie Parker said. “The MPA just came out with that information. It’s not our fault.”


“Having coached cross country this fall, the kids really enjoyed it,” Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Rob Taylor said. “The kids responded to what we asked in amazing fashion.”

“These kids want to play,” Keller said. “Yes, we’re concerned, don’t want our student athletes to come down with or pass on COVID. For the most part, they’re being forced to live a life completely abnormal to them.”

One of the most important pieces is the mental state of student athletes, Keller said.

Director Patrick Mulligan spoke of the football player in Brunswick who recently died by suicide.

“I don’t know the whole picture,” he said. “That mental health piece plays a huge part in this. I do have some health and safety concerns.”

Mulligan was in support of winter sports.


“Let the kids see that they can do more,” he said.

Directors voting in favor of winter sports were Lenia Coates, Elaine Fitzpatrick, Mulligan, Andrew Sylvester and Robert Staples. Voting against were Doug DiPasquale, student representative Taylor Guay, Steven Langlin, Michael Morrell, Lynn Ouellette, Joel Pike and Phoebe Pike. Ann Schwab recused herself as her son is an athlete and Sara Hughes was absent.

In other business, director Phoebe Pike noted staff members are going above and beyond at all times. She asked the community to try its very best to have students in class.

“A teacher can’t teach in an empty room,” Pike said.

The board also approved extending the Memorandum of Agreement through January 31, 2021. The agreement between the board and the district’s education association was approved at the Sept. 10 meeting.

The MOA will be extended a month at a time as there may be changes


This district is very fortunate to have a school board and administration that supports its staff, RSU 73 Education Association Chair Nathan Harnden said.

“We’re the only district in the region that has a Memorandum of Agreement,” he said.

Also approved was a bid of $3,788 for two buses and a van with that money to purchase three camera systems for currently used buses.

The vehicles were advertised for two weeks with only one bidder responding, Transportation Director Jim Shink said.


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