By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
Much has been changed to ensure some semblance of fall athletics can take place.
Some sports are not being played until next year, due to the risk posed by close contact, and others will have new rules. Athletic Director Kurt Kummer outlined all that had been done to get student athletes back on the field at a recent meeting of the School Committee.
School starts next Wednesday and fall sports begin on Sept. 18. One of the biggest changes was moving volleyball, unified basketball, football, and competitive cheerleading to the new “wedge season,” which begins on Feb. 21. Gymnastics, golf, cross country running, field hockey, fall swimming, and soccer will be available in the fall, and all games and meets will be held on the Raymond Beaupre Field.
“In between games we will spray down benches and bleachers,” said Kummer at the Sept. 9 meeting. “Everything’s got a rule that we’ll be following.”
Ensuring safety at the games
To keep the players and staff safe, Kummer said everyone will be expected to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms. Athletic Trainer Jen Fitzgerald will be the COVID contact person for the athletic department. If someone showed symptoms, Kummer said she’ll review the situation and contact Kummer. Medical areas for potential COVID cases will be established in and outside the school.
“We’ll try to limit exposure as much as we can,” he said. “We will post a list of symptoms so people can view them.”
Some traditions at games, such as shaking hands with the referee and other players, won’t be permitted for the time being. Kummer said that games will be played “back to back.” Additional benches and bleachers will be brought in as needed to help everyone socially distance. Equipment will be regularly disinfected before, during, and after games.
Those students whose parents opted for remote learning will need to arrive at games dressed and ready to play. Locker rooms will be available for those attending classes at the school, but lockers won’t be available and capacity will be reduced by 50 percent.
“We expect the kids go home, shower, clean all their equipment,” said Kummer. “There will be no shared equipment.”
During the meeting, School Committee member Sarah Stone asked about the possibility of livestreaming the games. Kummer said this wasn’t an option, as the setup at the field didn’t allow for it. Cameras are used to record game footage through a service called Hudl that the players use to review them. Kummer said it may be possible to utilize this to allow the public to watch games.
New rules for spectators
Parents won’t be allowed to attend games in other communities, as per the rules established by the Hockomock League, of which North Attleborough is a member. Kummer said that away games were a serious logistical issue. Buses are only allowed to have 1/3 the number of students, and he recalled that for girls soccer, three teams would be transported via one bus. Multiple buses will be used and travel teams may be reduced to meet the guidelines.
“We’re trying to avoid cuts as much as we can,” said Kummer.
Kummer said that some leagues, such as Tri-Valley, have opted to not allow spectators at games, but in the Hockomock it was voted to allow a limited number. Only 50 spectators will be allowed at each game and players will be given two tickets for those they want to attend. Once a game is over, they’ll be asked to leave to allow those attending the next one to enter. Tickets can be set aside for visiting coaches.
“We want them [parents] to be able to see their kids play,” said Kummer. “It’s not perfect. We wish it could be better.”