By Camie Strojny
As a result of the recent spike of Covid-19 cases on Nantucket that delayed the reopening of school twice, high school sports have been up in the air. Most traditional sports conditioned through the summer, following Covid-19 protocols efficiently. In late August, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) paired with the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to make the decision of introducing a Fall II / wedge season. This fourth season will accommodate sports programs that would be a “moderate risk” to run traditionally as of right now. They will run from February 22 through April 25, 2021.
Five days later on August 25, the MIAA sent out another press release in regard to what falls under the category of sports with a “moderate risk” factor. A vote was taken by the MIAA Board of Directors, and “game competitions for football and cheer will not be permitted during the traditional 2020 fall season of play;” however, they can still practice. In addition, a flag football “on-island” intramural opportunity will be held. Volleyball was also put under the list, therefore they will be practicing this fall and playing in the Fall II season.
Things were looking up for NPS athletes until Nantucket came out with 25 positive cases in four days. Chris Maury, Athletic Director of NHS, stated in his email on September 14, “I informed the other schools in the Cape and Islands League of our situation at a league meeting this past Friday – 9/11. I am pleased to say that all league schools are both understanding of and supportive of our current situation. They unanimously are in agreement to keep all existing fall game schedules intact as drafted with all Nantucket teams included on them.” However, two days later on September 16, more bad news came along with more positive cases– postponing the start of athletics. While this came as a disappointment, many agree it was the best decision to be made for the health and safety of the community.
The next day, September 17, interscholastic programs were canceled for Nantucket. The schools of the Cape and Islands League became uncomfortable with traveling to and from the island due to Nantucket being red-coded and the big spike in cases. Mr. Maury states in his email regarding the news, “we are in agreement that the best decision regarding our NPS fall athletic teams is to pull all of our teams out of any interscholastic play for the 2020 fall season and focus on developing an on island intramural based approach for this year’s NPS fall athletic teams. Clearly this was a very tough decision for us to make, but we fully believe that given the current circumstances regarding the COVID-19 virus on Nantucket, that this is the very best decision with regards to the safety and health of one and all.” Dr. Hallet, Superintendent of NPS, was in agreement with the intramural play.
The first day of practice for fall sports as intramural continued on October 1, 2020. Each team has been diligently working to follow protocols such as mask-wearing and staying distant from one another as much as possible. The Athletic Department, MIAA, EEA, DESE, and NPS are all working very hard to stay on top of things and decide on what is best for the Nantucket community and its surrounding schools.