High school sports given green light to compete

“If there are too many gatherings that lead to greater spread we will be forced to take action which none of us want to do.” — Gov. Phil Scott

ADDISON COUNTY — Vermont high school sports competitions, which mostly had been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will kick into gear on Friday, Feb. 12, Gov. Phil Scott announced at his regular press briefing this Friday.

Locally, this will allow basketball teams at Middlebury, Mount Abraham, Otter Valley and Vergennes union high schools, and hockey teams at MUHS to begin playing games after about a month of practicing.

Nordic ski teams at MUHS and OV had already been given the OK to start competing. MUHS Activities Director Sean Farrell said Tiger dance teams and cheer squads at other schools will now compete virtually by recording performances and submitting them to judges.

Farrell added the shorthanded MUHS gymnastics team opted not to compete this winter. Wrestling and indoor track had already been ruled out entirely, wrestling for coronavirus safety reasons and indoor track for lack of available facilities.

The Burlington Free Press reported on Friday the Vermont Principals’ Association has extended the winter season until March 27, a move that should allow hoop and hockey teams to schedule eight-game seasons. The VPA also told the Free Press a plan for postseason competitions is in place, but venues had yet to be made final.

Farrell said he and other ADs were working on schedules and hoped to make them final by the middle of next week.

According to state officials at Friday’s press conference, teams will be limited to no more than two games in a seven-day period and must take three days off between games.

No spectators will be allowed: Only players, coaches, officials, time and scorekeepers, and media will be permitted at indoor events.

One volunteer at each indoor event will be allowed to live-stream competitions, and schools will make arrangements for fans to watch games.

State officials at Friday’s press conference said they found no evidence of the spread of COVID-19 through the practices they authorized to begin in late December.

If data show that games are spreading the virus, they could pull the plug, according to Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources and chair of the state task force on restarting school sports.

“We will continue to actively follow the case data,” Moore said. “Should data emerge that indicates evidence of COVID-19 transmission or significant disruption to academic instruction because of sports-related activities, additional restrictions may become necessary, including targeted or even wholesale suspension of games and competitions.”

Scott urged families to continue to follow state recommendations so as not to “ruin this for your kids.”

“If there are too many gatherings that lead to greater spread we will be forced to take action which none of us want to do,” the governor said. “The last thing we want to do is move backwards, but as I’ve shown, I’m willing to do whatever’s necessary to keep people safe.”

The Independent plans on publishing game schedules in its Thursday edition and at addisonindependent.com. 

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Addison County Independent