SALEM — The winter athletics season is getting underway at Mt. Abram High School with alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and basketball. Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Kristina Stevens told the MSAD 58 school board during the Nov. 18 meeting that the Maine Principals Association has currently offered no guidance for masking policies for winter sports.
The Mountain Valley Conference, the league that MTA is part of, was split at 50/50 for masking policies during competition.
The primary conversation focused on basketball, as an indoor sport.
Stevens recommended that students be allowed to play without wearing face masks. Stevens said that once students are on the court, they are considered close contacts and would be subject to quarantining and isolation if there was a positive case after the game. They would be considered close contacts whether they were masked or not, so masking doesn’t change the potential impacts of quarantine.
Roughly 50% of her students are vaccinated and she expects that number to increase.
Students will be expected to mask on the bench; when they are physically exerting themselves while practicing or competing, they would be allowed to choose whether or not to mask.
The MVC agreed that if a school is requiring masks during game play, the visiting team will also mask during the game; if the school is not requiring masks, the visiting team may choose to whether or not to mask.
The league also agreed to allow home crowds only. Stevens said that students will get a number of tickets to give out to friends and family for admittance to the game. Spectators will be asked to provide their name and phone number for contact tracing if necessary. Spectators will be required to mask. There will not be concessions during games in order to encourage masking.
The school board took no action but vocalized general support for Stevens to proceed with her recommendations.
The expectations may change if there is updated guidance from the MPA or the Department of Education.