There will be no football or competitive cheering at Bedford High School this fall.
But if the threat of the coronavirus mitigates, they could take place during a new “floating season” from February 22 to April 25, part of a realignment designed to safeguard participants and accommodate all activities as much as possible.
BHS Athletics Director Keith Mangan reported that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Directors Wednesday endorsed the recommendations of its Covid-19 task force, as expected.
There will be four sports seasons: Sept. 18-Nov. 20; Nov. 30-Feb. 21; Feb. 22-April 25; and April 26-July 3. Guidelines for each season will be issued in advance, and their severity depends on the status of the virus at that time.
For the fall, there will be modifications to soccer, cross-country, field hockey, and golf. They are still under consideration and will be announced next week. Mangan surmised that these will include staggered starts in a cross-country meet, and limiting contact opportunities in soccer, volleyball, and field hockey,
“I’m meeting with fall coaches tonight and sending an email to all of our athletes and their parents to confirm what happened today,” Mangan said. “There will be a meeting next week to pitch our plans to the principals and the superintendent.”
Formal practices aren’t allowed until Sept. 18, he said, as the MIAA doesn’t want those sessions taking place before school is in session, even remotely. There will be no post-season tournaments in the fall.
Specific decisions on issues like transportation and scheduling will be worked out by schools and leagues, Mangan said. Dual County League athletic directors met today and “the conversation will continue.”
He noted that any city or town designated “red” by the state, indicating a high incidence of the virus, will not be able to play interscholastic sports until that crisis is lessened, under a state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policy.
The other fall sport moved to the “floating season” is unified basketball, a co-educational activity sponsored by Special Olympics that integrates students with intellectual disabilities and those without. “It’s a really cool program,” Mangan said. “The kids loved it. We had a bunch of games against other schools.”
Mangan said the MIAA also relaxed its prohibition on “coaching out of season,” leaving the specifics up to the leagues and schools. That means, for example, football coaches will be able to work with their athletes in the fall. That’s also important for social and emotional needs, Mangan pointed out.
Every team will have to follow MIAA limits on numbers of people in one place. For example, if the practice session exceeds 25, smaller cohorts will have to work out at another location or on a different day.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763
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