AUGUSTA — The Maine Principals’ Association announced April 9 it is canceling the upcoming spring sports season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision comes less than 48 hours after Governor Janet Mills and Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin recommended educators begin to make plans for school campuses to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
The decision also comes earlier than anticipated as it had previously been indicated committee members and league directors would entertain a discussion on the spring sports season towards the end of April.
“Please know that this was not a decision that was taken lightly, but one that the leadership at the MPA felt necessary to help support the recommendations from our Governor’s Office, the Maine CDC, and Commissioner Makin, and the Department of Education, that schools across the state not come back in session and provide remote and distance learning opportunities for the remainder of the school year,” said Mike Burnham, the Executive Director of the MPA’s Interscholastic Division. “We understand the importance that these athletic [...] programs play in the lives of students, their families, and their communities, but also recognize that these education-based activities are a part of the overall educational experience and at this time of uncertainty to adhere with the recommendations of staying at home, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding face-to-face instruction and large group gatherings, is crucial for us to persevere.”
As the pandemic slowly made its way to Maine, the MPA announced March 13 the beginning of the spring sports season would be delayed.
In response to recommendations from Governor Mills to avoid mass gatherings, the MPA Board of Directors and Interscholastic Management Committee voted that morning to delay practices for the high school spring sports season until April 27.
The MPA, at the time, said in a statement it would continue to monitor the situation and make appropriate decisions that ensure the safety of all students.
Though middle school sports are not governed by the MPA, middle school athletic officials have previously noted middle school athletic organizations would follow the MPA’s guidelines and decisions amid the pandemic.
“We want to recognize the efforts of the hard-working dedicated educators across the entire state as they provide distance learning opportunities to students in Pre-K through 12th grade and to thank them for their work during this COVID-19 crisis,” Burnham said. “We also want to recognize the important role that coaches and advisors play in the lives of our young people and would encourage them to continue to reach out to their team members to provide the emotional support that so many students need during this time of uncertainty.”