Dear Shawsheen Parent/Guardians:
As the September 14th Opening Day of School for Shawsheen approaches, you will likely be receiving an increased volume of email from Shawsheen, outlining a number of modifications to procedures or other COVID-19 related decisions that we have made. We apologize in advance for the volume and hope you understand that it was necessary to delay many of these decisions as long as possible to ensure they were aligned with the current COVID-19 conditions in Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington. Today’s email outlines our plan for Fall Sports.
On August 18th, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released their Joint Guidance on Modified Sports Seasons for School Year 2020-21. This guidance was informed by a variety of state-wide stakeholders, medical advisors and was based on the Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Guidance approved by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). While the MIAA/DESE guidance left many of the decisions about Fall Sports in the hands of local school districts, the guidance also announced a state-wide decision that Fall Football and Fall Cheering will NOT run during the traditional Fall season, but have instead been deferred to a “new” season, commonly referred to as Fall II, which is estimated to run between February 22nd and April 25th, 2021.
With that decision made by the state, at Shawsheen we focused our decision-making on the remaining interscholastic Fall sports that we traditionally run: Girls’ Volleyball, Cross Country, Golf, Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Soccer. Several meetings were held with High School Principal Jess Cook, Assistant Superintendent/Business Manager Melanie Hagman and Shawsheen’s Athletic Director, Mr. Al Costabile. With that decision made by the state, at Shawsheen we focused our decision-making on the remaining interscholastic Fall sports that we traditionally run: Girls’ Volleyball, Cross Country, Golf, Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Soccer. Several meetings were held with High School Principal Jessica Cook, Assistant Superintendent/Business Manager Melanie Hagman and Shawsheen’s Athletic Director, Mr. Al Costabile. We based much of our discussion on the decisions recently announced by the Middlesex League, to which two of our sending communities (Burlington and Wilmington) belong. While these decisions represent the consensus of this group, as Superintendent, the responsibility for making the decisions that follow below ultimately lies with me.
1. Sports are an essential outlet for the physical, social and emotional health and well-being of many of our students. Studies have shown that outdoor activities are up to 20 times safer than indoor activities. At Shawsheen, we will be offering Golf, Cross Country, Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Soccer during the traditional 2020 Fall Season.
2. Due to the increased level of risk and aerosolization concerns associated with running an indoor sport, at Shawsheen we are NOT offering Girls’ Volleyball during the traditional 2020 Fall season. Girls’ Volleyball will join Football and Fall Cheering and be moved to the Fall II season.
3. The Fall Sports season practices will begin Monday, September 21st. Each sport will be limited to a maximum of ten competitions, with at least one competition per week for Cross Country, Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Soccer taking place on a weekend. (Golf is exempted from this rule due to limited weekend availability of courses).
4. For safety and operational reasons, Shawsheen will NOT be able to provide transportation to games and practices. Parents/Caregivers will be responsible for arranging all transportation to practice and games for their student-athletes.
5. In order to focus our after-school cleaning and sanitizing efforts on our shop and academic spaces, all of our locker rooms will be closed. We will not be allowing student-athletes to access our locker room facilities.
6. To minimize risk to our student-athletes and coaches, the number of fans who can attend a competition will be limited to immediate family/caregivers and no more than two additional guests per athlete. All fans will be required to wear masks when on Shawsheen property and fans are expected to maintain a minimum of six (6) feet social distancing from one another.
7. Coaches and student-athletes will be required to strictly adhere to all of the sport-specific Rules Modifications and Guidelines published by the MIAA.
Ultimately, the decision regarding whether or not your student will participate in either Golf, Cross Country, Boys’ Soccer or Girls’ Soccer lies with you, the parent(s) or guardian(s) of our students. We have worked hard to put together a plan that reflects our focus on student and staff safety while recognizing the importance of maintaining a sense of normalcy for our students in general and reflecting our belief that interscholastic sports plays an important role in many of our students’ lives. Go Rams!
Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.