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A vote of 5 to 2 on Feb. 8 by School Committee members, put sports back on the schedule at Westford Academy.
Athletic Director Jeff Bunyon presented a set of intricate and detailed guidelines that will allow the high school athletes to get back on the court or field.
School Committee members Avery Adam and Gloria Miller voted against the motion that was designed to reignite the amended sports program under new guidelines.
Westford Academy Student Representative Hannah Macey said she plays three sports and like her classmates, wants to keep playing.
“…Students would definitely be on board with signing something saying they will follow the guidelines,” Macey said.
The following is the Fall2 Sports Plan Presented by Athletic Director Jeff Bunyon.
WESTFORD ACADEMY SPORTS PLAN
“The MIAA announced their guidelines and modifications for the Fall2 “Floating Season” 2021 sports season. The start date for Fall2 sports is currently Monday 2/22.
Game competitions will not be starting until the week of March 8. We learned a lot during the fall and winter athletics seasons. Fortunately, there has been no spreading of the virus throughout any WA or DCL athletic teams (student-athletes or coaches) as a result of on the field play.
According to the MIAA Sports Medicine Committee, ‘It is important to note that the Covid-19 infection related to youth sports seem to spread from outside the field play.’ The focus continues to be on the student-athletes social, emotional and physical health and to simply have an opportunity to participate in the sport they love while having fun with their peers at practice and enjoying some competitions.
DESE is requiring the MIAA to follow ALL the safety guidelines and modifications outlined by the EEA during this public health crisis. The following committees worked together and made recommendations for safe Interscholastic Athletic competition.
These committees are made up of (Superintendents, Principals, Athletic Trainers, Athletic Directors, Physicians and Medical Professionals) *Individual Sports Committees *Sports Medicine Committee *Covid Task Force Committee *MIAA Board of Directors *Dual County League Athletic Directors
“In the fall and winter, all safety guidelines and modifications recommended by these committee experts were strictly adhered to and successfully implemented. The Westford Academy athletic team is committed to following the Fall2 “Floating Season” 2021 safety guidelines that have been established in the same safe manner.
**ADDITIONAL LAYER OF PROTECTION for BOTH INDOOR & OUTDOOR Fall2 PARTICIPATION**
The Athletic Department would implement an additional layer of individual safety protection by requiring all student-athletes to “Check-In” before every session and record their temperature with their coach. This additional safety measure would proactively identify any health issues. The Athletic Department will continue to work closely with the Westford Health Department. Health Director, Jeff Stephens and I continue to review our local safety policies.
The Dual County League has set up guidelines similar to other leagues that include: No spectators at indoor events. At this time, in order to limit the number of non-school personnel in the building, there will be no spectators allowed at indoor events. This policy will be revisited prior to the start of competitions for approval by school superintendents, school principals and local health commissions. Streaming events on YouTube.com will continue.
Season Start Date: Feb. 22; Competitions Begin: Week of 3/8/2021 Schedule: Similar pod schedule to the fall & winter season. Compete against the same school per week in every sport. Consistent with the fall & winter seasons, WA will not be providing transportation to away events. Below is a list of approved for competition Fall2 “Floating Season” sports Girls
*Masks are mandatory for players, coaches and officials
*Game rosters are limited to 12 to 15 players and three coaches depending on gym size *Players will maintain 6 ft. distancing while seated on the bench area. Additional seating will be provided to accommodate this modification
*There will be an identified location with seats available for players to quickly remove masks for hydration and a “quick mask break” prior to re entering competition.
*Hand sanitizer stations will be provided upon entering and exiting the playing surface
*Hand sanitizer before serve when applicable
*No locker rooms will be in use
*All equipment will be sanitized after all sessions The gymnasiums will need to be disinfected on a daily basis and after each session. I have communicated with Tom Griffin and our WA custodial staff, and we will work closely with the custodial staff to make sure all sanitizing safety guidelines are followed and consistently adhered to. Highlighted Game Modifications:
Points of Emphasis
- Masks MUST be worn at all times
- No Pregame/Postgame handshakes
- Recommendation to use bleachers for benches (identified seat markings for each player to use throughout entire event)
- Each team will use their own balls for warm-ups
- Game Day Roster maximum of 15 players
- Teams will stay on their own side for duration of competition
- Specific Game Balls (6) should be set apart from other balls
- Game ball is to be replaced after every set (sanitize)
- Players MUST use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting court
- Officials shall use electronic whistles
- Home team to provide a “Covid Quality Control Officer” Football: *Masks are mandatory for all players, coaches and officials
*Limits on the number of players on the sideline during the games. There will be identified marks along the sidelines which will assist in maintaining 6 ft. distancing.
*There will be an identified location for players to quickly remove masks for hydration and a “quick mask break” prior to re entering competition.
*Hand sanitizer stations will be provided upon entering and exiting the playing field
*No locker rooms will be in use Highlighted Game Modifications: Points of Emphasis
- **Masks MUST be worn at all times**
- No Pregame/Postgame handshakes
- Game Roster will be limited to 45 players and 6 coaches ● Sideline players MUST maintain 6 Foot Distances (identified markings extended to 10 yard line to accommodate proper spacing protocol) ● HUDDLES: Must face same direction (use hand signals)
- Maximum of 25 players per one half of field, 14 Foot Distancing between teams while warming up and sharing the field
- Mandatory water break at halfway point of each quarter
- Sanitized ball will be introduced on all new possessions
- No Locker Room usage
- Home team must provide a “Covid Quality Control Officer” Cheer (TBD based on individual school participation)
CHEER *Only sidelined Cheer has been approved by the MIAA for Fall2 participation
*Home football games only
*Masks are mandatory for all players, coaches and officials
*Limits on the number of cheerleaders (20) on the sideline during the games. There will be identified marks along the sidelines which will assist in maintaining 6 foot. distancing.
UPDATE: Indoor Track was approved as a “Fall2” sport by the MIAA to begin February 22nd. However, the lack of Indoor track facilities to host track meets safely is still a concern. Indoor training facilities is also an issue for the majority of the schools including WA. We recently implemented an out of season coaching model for indoor track athletes that takes place outdoors (weather permitted).
The goal is to continue this training during the next two months leading up to the Spring Track & Field season. This is consistent with the other DCL member schools. Season Start Date: Monday Feb. 22, Prior to the start date, I will conduct a WA Pre-Season Coaches Meeting on Thursday 2/11. Coaches have already received the individual sport guidelines and modifications. These modifications will be reviewed with all teams and emphasized by me when I meet with every student-athlete. All coaches and administrators MUST complete the NFHS COVID-19 Safety Course prior to the start of the season.”
Source: Westford Academy Athletic Director Jeff Bunyon.