AUGUSTA — It’s official, Cony Middle and High school will participate in select sports this fall.

The Augusta Public School board of directors called a special meeting to discuss the fall sports guidelines the Maine Principal’s Association released Sept. 10.

Jon Millett, Augusta Athletic Director.

The board voted unanimously to approve cross country, soccer, field hockey, outdoor volleyball and cheering for the high school, and field hockey, cross country and soccer at the middle school. The board discussed having intramural sports at the middle school level, but nothing was decided.

Football has been replaced with 7 v. 7 flag football, and indoor volleyball will be played outside.

Augusta Athletic Director Jon Millett said that providing sports for students through school would mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, because the students would not turn to travel teams.

“There is a real concern if we don’t offer athletics, athletes turn to travel teams, where there is less diligence in guidelines and it places the student body at risk,” Millett said.

The Augusta Public Schools are following a hybrid model approach and split students in to three cohorts — A, B and the fully remote learning cohort, C.

Regardless of a student’s cohort, they will be able to participate in sports at the school. If a student is at home, learning remotely, the day of practice, they are asked to show up in the correct gear to practice. Students who were at home that day will not be allowed to use the locker room.

Millett said that porta-potties were bought to minimize trips in and out of the school during practice.

Augusta schools are within the “green” zone, which is a color scale indicator created by the Maine Department of Education to judge the safety of a school district.

For any schools that fall into the yellow or red zone, practices must be halted. Currently, York County schools are the only ones in the state with a yellow designation.

Students will have to be pre-screened for COVID-19 symptoms before any sports practice, Millett said, especially when preparing to travel by bus to competitions that take place outside of Cony.

“Sport-specific modifications include social distancing between players when possible, pre-screening, sanitation, and changing the way that competition is done to outdoor-only,” Millett said.

The school system will be in charge of transporting students to the competitions, and no spectators from Cony will be allowed to attend the competitions at other schools.

Only 100 people total will be available to spectate, including the players, refs and coaches.

Millett said that he plans on having a student livesteam games to YouTube from the sidelines via an iPad, so families could still watch their child play.

Augusta Superintendent James Anastasio is in favor of the board’s decision, adding that he believes in the importance of extracurriculars for child development.

“With the guidelines that we have established, the risks have been minimized enough to at least give it a go,” Anastasio said, bringing up Cony’s experience this summer having sports practices. “If early experience was not successful, I think that we may have had to reconsider.”

The MPA has given each sport-specific guidelines to follow and has rated the sports on a scale of one to five. Golf and cross country are the sports with the lowest risk, and have been given the opportunity, to compete with other counties that are a green designation. The other sports that have been approved are limited to compete within the region.

Millett hopes to have a game schedule by early next week after meeting with other athletic directors in the competition region to discuss.


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