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High school sports

With county's virus increase, Belfast, Mount View, Searsport suspend athletic events

Substantial spike of positive COVID-19 cases in Waldo County worries school officials
By Mark Haskell | Oct 19, 2020
Courtesy of: Courtesy of Belfast Area High School

In lieu of a significant increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in Waldo County in recent days, Belfast Area High School athletic director Matt Battani, Searsport District High School athletic director Chris Hart and Mount View High School Principal Zack Freeman announced on Monday, Oct. 19 their schools will postpone or cancel athletic events for one week.

BAHS has suspended athletic events and practices, while MVHS will continue to allow teams to hold — and student-athletes to participate — in practices.

SDHS canceled practices on Monday, Oct. 19, though the school planned to hold practices throughout the remainder of the week.

"All [Regional School Unit] 3 athletic competitions will be canceled through Oct. 25, 2020," said Freeman. "This is being done out of an abundance of caution. There will still be practices held during this time. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out by calling 207-568-3255."

"Out of an abundance of caution with the dramatic increase in positive cases in Waldo County, Searsport District Middle/High School will not participate in athletic contests this week," Hart said. "There will still be practices held during this time. RSU 71, RSU 3, and RSU 20 are unified in this temporary break in the athletic season and will reassess at the end of the week. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call 207-548-2313."

Battani said after Waldo County had 11 new positive cases Friday, “we were worried so we decided to suspended sports on Friday, canceled our football game and cross-country meet and suspended Friday practices."

Then, seven additional cases in the county were reported on Saturday, Oct. 10, 10 on Sunday, Oct. 18 and 11 on Monday morning, Oct. 19.

“Waldo County went from about five active cases to 46 in four days,” Battani said. “So we were glad that we suspended [athletics].”

Many of those numbers are believed to be linked to an outbreak at the Brooks Pentecostal Church and Lighthouse Christian Academy in Brooks.

However, three cases have directly affected Regional School Unit 71 schools, including one case at the Capt. Albert Stevens School in Northport, Ames Elementary School of Searsmont and Troy Howard Middle School of Belfast.

If numbers continue to go down by Friday, Oct. 23 Battani said he plans to check the wellness of his student-athletes and coaches on Friday and hopes to resume activities after school on Monday, Oct. 26.

“Once we see Waldo County has contained this outbreak and we can confidently go forward knowing our athletes and coaches are healthy, we will start the process of rescheduling," Battani said. "But first we want to make sure this outbreak gets under control.

“My hope is to reschedule ASAP, but the numbers are climbing and it’s something we’re watching super closely.”

While Mount View has canceled games and Belfast has postponed its events, Freeman said, "if we can find a mutual time" to play previously-scheduled games the Mustangs would, under the right circumstances. Belfast and Mount View, separated by a few miles, have played each other in soccer, field hockey and football this season.

Both schools also have played Searsport in soccer.

Overall, as of Monday, Oct. 19, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there had been 124 cases, 64 recoveries and 14 deaths in Waldo County, with many of those deaths coming from an outbreak at a long-term care facility in Belfast in May.

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