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High school sports

COVID-19 increases in Waldo County force end to fall athletics

Belfast, Searsport, Mount View student-athletes had competed in field hockey, golf, cross country, soccer and football
By Mark Haskell | Oct 23, 2020

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Waldo County — 57 as of Friday, Oct. 23 — it was announced high school sports in the county would be all but canceled for the remainder of the fall season.

With the outbreak at the Brooks Pentecostal Church and Lighthouse Christian Academy in Brooks being the primary source of rising cases, the Maine Department of Education changed the county’s designation from "green" to "yellow" on Friday.

Under current guidelines, any county designated "yellow" must suspend interscholastic sports until the county returns to a "green" designation.

Thus, Belfast Area High School, Mount View High School of Thorndike and Searsport District High School, which offered soccer, field hockey, 7-on-7 football, cross country and golf (golf seasons concluded a few weeks prior), must halt games and practices, effective immediately.

Schools also may consider additional precautions to reduce the number of people in classrooms at one time and decrease interactions and risk.

The department of education will keep Waldo County in the "yellow" designation for a minimum of 14 days, which would extend through what was scheduled as the end of the fall sports seasons for the three schools.

While Belfast and Mount View  have canceled the remainder of their interscholastic fall sports schedules, Searsport holds hope it may fit in a few more events in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B cross-country championship meet scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31 and the state cross-country championships scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 14, all at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, also will be moved to new locations.

The KVAC meet has been moved to Quarry Road in Waterville, but there has been no announcement on where the state races will be held.

“I am deeply saddened by the curtailment of the fall sports season,” said Mount View athletic director Tom Lynch. “Sports are a very important part of many of our student's lives. That said, under the current circumstances, it is the prudent thing to do as the safety of our community is of paramount importance.”

Letters regarding the news went home with Mount View High School student-athletes on Friday, Oct. 16.

BAHS athletic director Matt Battani added “fall sports at [Regional School Unit] 71 are finished.”

“We have no cases of COVID in the high school or in our sports program, but cases in the county continue to increase as this outbreak spreads,” he said. “I doubt many schools would want to travel to THMS [for cross-country meets] given the outbreak we are experiencing in the county.”

RSU 71 had three cases of COVID-19 as of last week — one at Capt. Albert W. Stevens School of Belfast, Ames Elementary School of Searsmont and Troy Howard Middle School of Belfast, but the latter two cases were presumed positive and recently came back negative. Those three cases were linked to the outbreak at the Brooks church.

While BAHS and MVHS officially have canceled their fall seasons, SDHS will continue to monitor the situation over the next few weeks and hope to hold a few additional regular-season games, before the final playable date, should the opportunity present itself.

“Once a school goes into 'yellow' status they do weekly updates and biweekly designations,” said Searsport Principal Josh Toothaker. “Once you enter 'yellow' you are assessed week to week. We are awaiting next week an update and we will make a determination then as to what happens next.”

Belfast last participated in athletics on Thursday, Oct. 15 when the soccer teams played Nokomis of Newport, while the Mount View and Searsport soccer teams also played each other the same day. The Mustang football team was the last Mount View team to play with a Friday, Oct. 16 win over Maranacook of Readfield.

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