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North Adams School Committee OKs Golf, Cross Country for Fall
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:44AM / Thursday, September 03, 2020
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The School Committee gave the OK for cross country competition but if there are enough teams to field this fall, they won't be bunched up in groups.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee on Tuesday voted to move football and soccer to the so-called "Fall II" and to allow golf and cross country to go ahead with precautions. 
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association last week released final guides for fall high school sports in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The concept of a Fall II had been approved earlier for football and other high contact sports to be played  between February and April.
"It would basically run dates to be determined but between the winter, and the spring season so for our district probably mid-March to the end of April," said Athletic Director David Racette. "We would be looking for approval for any students to play golf and cross country if the host schools have it."
He also requested approval for hosting a few practices a week of football and soccer that would follow social distancing guides set by the state. This was also approved.
Golf is run as a co-op with Hoosac Valley High School and cross country with McCann Technical, with Drury High School as the guest school for both.
"I don't know what McCann is doing, I heard unofficially that they are not having fall sports but I've not heard that officially," Racette said. "Hoosac is going to the School Committee on Sept. 14 so I won't know until then."
As for football and soccer, the MIAA is allowing practice out of season. 
"I believe that we can safely offer these modified practices for football and soccer, keeping them physically distanced and still following all of the protocols that are set forth in the guidelines," he said. "And we'd be emphasizing skills for both of those sports using just body weights, agility drills, and cardio workouts while supplying social and emotional support for those students."
The athletic department would be using "extensive guidance" from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and "very stringent guidelines" from MIAA around play, said Superintendent Barbara Malkas. 
"We would take advantage of the fall weather, have kids outside on the field, and they would have to be spaced very far apart," she said. "Every student, I believe if I'm correct, Mr. Racette has said every student has to have their own balls for soccer. ...
"It's extreme guidance, but I do think it's doable, to at least be able to conduct the practices, without having any close physical contact."
Committee member Tara Jacobs asked if that meant there would be no shared equipment or tossing balls back and forth.
"There'll be no balls, no anything," Racette assured her. 
Neither would there be an issue with transportation for practices since they would be held at Drury after school. For golf and cross country, it would be the student's responsibility to get to the host school or course. 
"Cross country would have staggered starts, golf would have no more than four on a tee, they would start at different holes," Racette said. "Yes, they have whole different modified rules to play in the fall."
Golf courses have been open since early May. 
The only schools that can hold regular fall sports are those that are opening in a hybrid or in-person mode. Pittsfield, which is opening remotely, has voted not hold fall sports. Mount Greylock Regional has voted the same plan put forward by Drury but held the possibility of competitive sports in late fall.
But, Racette said, there may not be any other schools to play with.
"I think it's extremely important that students have opportunities for exercise and conditioning," said Vice Chairwoman Heather Boulger. "However, I think if we were to approve any sort of a fall in-person sporting event, we'd be contradicting what this committee voted on at the last meeting to start the school year remotely."
Mayor Thomas Bernard, chairman, said he wanted to be sure they would be paying close attention to how the trainings and practices were being conducted and that they were following protocols. 
Malkas said Racette would be coming back to the committee with guidance from MIAA as the seasons unfold.
"Because there are some sports that it may just become impossible to run if we're seeing data change regarding the public health crisis," she said.
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