LIVERMORE — Regional School Unit 73 directors agreed Thursday that changes to the Maine Principals Association’s guidelines for winter sports could be used at Spruce Mountain schools.

“About a week and a half ago, the MPA decided the color coding system they’ve been using was originally designated for academic purposes,” Spruce Mountain High School Athletic Director Marc Keller said.

Schools in green counties, so designated indicating the risk of spreading the virus was low, could participate in athletic activities but schools in yellow counties, designated as moderate risk, could not, he said.

Low- and moderate-risk winter sports were approved for Spruce Mountain in December at a special board meeting. Earlier in the month, all winter sports were voted down.

“The MPA and (Department of Health and Human Services), the governor’s office decided that coding system doesn’t really apply to athletics,” Keller said. “Schools and teams from yellow designated counties are now allowed to participate in practices and competitions.”

There are 11 games scheduled at SMHS, Keller said.

Five of those are against schools in Androscoggin or Oxford counties, Spruce Mountain Middle School Athletic Director Craig Collins noted.

“We’re asking permission to be able to participate against those schools with the understanding that we are in constant communication with the athletic directors from those schools to make sure we’re not putting our student athletes in a situation where they might come down with COVID,” Keller said.

He shared an example of where Spruce plays Buckfield but Oxford County is in the moderate risk category because of an outbreak in Fryeburg.

“We’d like to have the ability to make that decision through an informed decision with coaches and administration,” Keller said. “If this was 2010 and this (pandemic) was going on, Jay could not play Livermore Falls High School. It’s that close.”

Livermore Falls is in Androscoggin County.

“Our original motion basically said ‘following the guidelines of the district, MPA and the (Center for Disease Control),'” board Chairman Robert Staples said.

“I’m very confident in our athletic directors,” Staples said.

“The language of our motion does put it in the hands of the administrators who actually run our district,” Director Michael Morrell said. “Their decision is going to be what’s best for students at that time. Ours is what’s best for students sort of through the season.”

Superintendent Scott Albert said he has spoken with the nurses and school physician.

“Some other districts have already changed,” he said. “We’re already in a hybrid model, even though green, so it wouldn’t change what we do practice-wise even if we became yellow.”

“I trust Marc and Craig,” Albert said. “Our nurses don’t have a problem with calling the school we know we’re going to play. I want to do it on a game-by-game basis.

The district has been taking things day by day or week by week academically, he said. All extracurricular activities would be treated the same, he noted.

“If we have to go remote as a district, we will not be doing anything extracurricular,” Albert said. “It does not matter why, but if we’re going remote we’re not playing or practicing.”

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