FRYEBURG — Athletes and coaches at Fryeburg Academy are playing the waiting game, waiting to see if the state of Maine gives the Raiders and other schools around the Pine Tree State the green light to play sports this fall.

Athletic Director Sue Thurston posted on Facebook on Friday, “PLAY BALL!!! Or at least now it’s onto the Governor's Office!!!! So happy for the kids!!!!”

Her post was a reaction to the Maine Principal’s Association’s Management Committee unanimously approved the recommendation from the MPA Sports Medicine Committee to move forward with all fall sports on Thursday.

Although the MPA approves the plans, the state government and local school districts need to as well.

“It’s still up in the air,” Thurston said Monday by phone. “Hopefully, we’ll find out soon, we need to.”

“Based on currently known information, the MPA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee believes that strict adherence by schools and teams to the guidelines and to their own COVID19 prevention plans should provide a reasonably safe environment for a return to both school-based athletics,” the MPA states in a 35-page guideline issued Thursday. “It is important to remember that all sports and activities carry a potential risk of injury and illness. The risk of contracting COVID-19 illness is in addition to the underlying risks of a given sport for activity. It is also important to note that participation in any competitive sport and/or activity is strictly voluntary for both the individuals and the schools.

Sports and activities present multiple challenges in the effective use of primary prevention strategies. These challenges include:

“Risk of exposure to the virus due to close physical proximity during sports and activities through participation in the sport activity itself, group seating and group travel.

“Increased risk during intense and sustained physical contact whether purposeful or accidental.

“Increased projection of respiratory particles during cardiovascular activities, yelling or shouting as part of play, or common sneezing or coughing. This increase in the project of droplets can be up to 14 feet. While face coverings are recommended to reduce the risk of viral transmission between individuals, face coverings may not be compatible with many sports. Face coverings are not currently recommended for players during active play, with the exception of volleyball. Face coverings should be used when not engaged in active ply (e.g. during coaching strategy sessions, in bench area).”

Sports are broken down into three categories as lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk.

Lower risk are “sports that can be done with social distancing individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.”

The MPA lists individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put and discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross-country running (with staggered starts) as example of low risk sports.

Moderate risks are “sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or intermittent close contact or group sports or sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.”

The MPA lists basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, soccer, water polo, gymnastics (if equipment can’t be substantially cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high jump, long jump, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell and eve-on-seven football as examples of moderate risk sports.

Volleyball, baseball, softball, tennis, pole vault, high jump and long jump could potentially be considered lower risk with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants).

Higher risks are “sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.”

The MPA lists wrestling, football, boy’s lacrosse, competitive cheer and dance at higher risk sports.

“As we await the final, final decision on fall sports, we are entering our last week, (we hope) here is the optional conditioning/individual skill sessions,” Thurston posted on Monday morning and shared the schedule for the week.

Optional practices this week for all those with paperwork and the screening done before arrival are:

Cross-country running — meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 a.m. Contact Coach Bill Reilly at breilly@fryeburgacademy.org

Golf starts on Monday at Lake Kezar County Club in Lovell, Maine. Contact Coach Chris Dutton at cdutton@fryeburgacademy.org

Football is Monday through Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m., and Friday is yet to be determined. Contact Coach David Turner at daveturner@fryeburgacademy.org

Boys soccer is scheduled for Monday through Friday from 5:15-7 p.m. Contact Coach Bob Hodgman-Burns as bhodgman-burns@fryeburgacademy.org

Girls soccer is Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. Contact Coach Antonio Barrinuevo at abarrinuevo@fryeburgacademy.org

Field hockey practice is Monday and Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday from 3-5 p.m., and Friday is yet to be determined. Contact Coach Dede Frost at dfrost@fryeburgacademy.org

Mountain biking is scheduled to start on Sept. 8.

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