Conant, Mascenic, WLC still undecided on winter sports

  • Conant basketball Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/18/2020 4:59:14 PM

As the winter sports season approaches, the Jaffrey-Rindge School District has preliminarily approved measures to allow the season to move forward, with athletes wearing masks at all times – including during play – and limited amounts of spectators.

“It is our goal to offer a winter sports season for our student-athletes this year,” said Jaffrey-Rindge Communications Director Nicholas Handy. “Currently, the district’s decision to go remote has not had any effect or change on the winter sports season. Obviously, the pandemic will impact the season in a big way.”

The NHIAA has directed districts that unofficial drills can begin on Nov. 30, official practices on Dec. 14, and games can begin on Jan. 11.

On Monday, Jaffrey-Rindge Activities Director Heather Linstad and Athletic Director David Springfield presented a number of recommendations for the upcoming sports season to the school board, which were unanimously approved and will be included in the district’s winter co-curricular guidebook. The board anticipates reviewing the guidebook for final approval on Dec. 7.

Conant High School participates in boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ ice hockey in a co-op team with ConVal, indoor track, swimming, wrestling and spirit/cheerleading during the winter months.

The recommendations include strict guidelines for limiting the spread of COVID-19. Jaffrey-Rindge is currently in a fully remote model, due to the amount of community spread within Cheshire County and Jaffrey and Rindge specifically, which included several positive cases within the school district at the time the schools shut down.

The recommendations include masks being worn by athletes, coaches and spectators at all times – including during gameplay – with mask breaks provided. Spectators who refuse to wear a mask will be asked to leave school property.

Only spectators from the Conant community will be allowed during home games. Each athlete will be allowed to have two spectators at each game, and seats will be spread eight feet apart to ensure social distancing.

Physical contact between athletes and athletes and coaches, including high fives and handshakes and group celebrations will not be allowed.

The guidelines also laid out some rules specific to particular sports. Swim team athletes will have to have masks on at all times except while swimming. There will be no more than three swimmers in each lane during practice and swimmers must be separated by 10 to 15 feet.

High school and middle school cheerleading squads will have staggered practice times in the district’s exercise room.

Indoor track is unlikely to have access to an indoor track for the season’s competitions due to college shut-downs, but can continue to have practice three days a week in the evening and can use the fitness center and high school cafeteria to train for the spring season.

The district plans to expand the hours that facilities are open to ensure that all teams have a practice time that allows for social distancing. Teams and coaches must clean in between practices and games, and custodians will clean and disinfect after all games or practices are over for the day.

The district will continue to enforce temperature checks and pre-screening questionnaires for students, coaches and spectators.

“More discussions will be had between now and the official start of the sports season – as with everything during this pandemic, we are stressing the need for flexibility and understanding during this time,” Handy said. “If there comes a time where the decision to cancel the season is made, the district will make every effort possible to ensure that learners have meaningful opportunities to stay active.”

ConVal approved its winter sports plan on Oct. 27, allowing student-athletes to participate in cheerleading, Nordic and alpine skiing, basketball, indoor track, and ice hockey, with a final decision yet to be made on wrestling. ConVal student-athletes and any members of their household who attend ConVal schools will have to learn remotely for the entirety of the season and quarantine following the final competition. 

Other districts are waiting on further guidance from the NHIAA before moving forward with recommendations.

Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District only participates in basketball as a winter sport, Superintendent Bryan Lane said Tuesday. The district is currently waiting for additional COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from the NHIAA before making any decisions on its winter sports season. WLC is currently holding in-person classes. 

The Mascenic Regional School District was initially scheduled to discuss its winter sports season during it most recent School Board meeting Monday, but tabled the conversation until its next scheduled session, as Athletic Director Bradley Miller continues to gauge interest in winter sports like swimming. 


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