Everybody is green. Now what?

Friday’s announcement by the Maine Department of Education that each of the state’s 16 counties were given a green designation — meaning full in-person learning is allowed with safety precautions set by the state in place — was met with cautious optimism by high school athletic directors across the state. They now wait for the word from their superintendents, who now have the unenviable task of deciding how green is green in their schools.

If your school is open, offer extracurricular activities. Please don’t turn schools, which in the best of ways are communities, into cold buildings with one function.

Any school that opens for in-class learning without some sort of extracurricular activity offered, be it sports, band, chess club, theater club, whatever, is doing its students a disservice.

For many students, extracurricular activities are the thin tether that connects them to academics. It is their social and mental pressure release valve. They’ve already gone a full season without it.

We know. We see so many states on fire with Covid-19, so many states that appear to have thrown their hands up and hope the problem will vanish in the face of a good shrug. Maine’s not like that. Maine is one of the states that has done a good job minimizing outbreaks. Not eliminating, that’s impossible, but we’re in good shape and nobody wants to do anything to blow up five months of hard work.

High school sports will not look like it has in the past. It can’t. We seem to be making a lot of this up as we go, and that’s OK. We’ve never had to do this before. There is no reason to follow the same rule book when the old rules do not apply. If somebody says to you a decision was made because that’s the way it’s always been done, that’s a person with no ideas.

Not comfortable with interscholastic activities? Form intramural clubs. What works at one school might not work at another. Whatever is offered, we must be prepared for it to stop at a moment’s notice. Have a plan, and be prepared to change it.

It’s encouraging we haven’t heard of outbreaks in youth sports leagues that have played this summer, or in any of the high school team activities underway. We know, past performance is not an indicator for the future, but it’s a sign people are taking this seriously and following guidelines. If you want fall, or even winter, sports, this has to continue.

The Maine Principals’ Association have already done the right thing by limiting the number of games fall sports teams will play. Athletic directors in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference have discussed working with schools in other conferences to tighten regional schedules.

Now it’s up to the superintendents, who need to study the science, and talk to medical experts in their communities, and make a decision that could need to be rescinded in weeks or days if there’s an outbreak.

Everybody is green? Now what? Now we take a deep breath, and a tentative step forward.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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