REOPENING UPDATE: School Committee To Vote On Fall Sports On Sept. 9; 3 Options On Table; Middlesex League Hopes All Members Stay United

WILMINGTON, MA — At a meeting last week, Wilmington High School’s new Athletic Direector Mia Muzio updated the School Committee on where WHS sports offerings currently stand for the 2020-2021 school year in light of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, the MIAA Board of Directors approved a proposed athletic calendar for the school year which creates FOUR sports seasons:

  • FALL (September 18-November 20): Boys Golf; Boys & Girls Cross Country; Field Hockey; Girls & Boys Soccer; Girls Volleyball
  • WINTER (November 30-February 21): Boys & Girls Indoor Track, Swim & Dive; Cheer; Girls & Boys Hockey; Girls & Boys Basketball; Wrestling
  • FLOATING/WEDGE SEASON (February 22-April 25): Football; Cheer
  • SPRING: (April 26-July 3): Baseball, Softball, Girls & Boys Tennis, Boys & Girls Track & Field, Girls & Boys Lacrosse

Muzio laid out the three models the WHS Athletic Department can choose for Fall 2020:

  • Full participation
  • Modified competition, which would limit travel, numbers on buses, number of total participants, number of teams, and interactions with student-athletes from other towns and potential exposure
  • No interscholastic athletics, where intramural options may be available to interested students (e.g., running club, strength & conditioning program, fitness class after school, possibly even skills drills & practice for teams)

Muzio listed several benefits student athletes would receive from participating in a fall sport, including: better educational outcomes, enhanced school engagement, a sense of belonging, positive youth development & life skills, healthier behaviors, post-high school positive results, and developing better citizens.

She also acknowledged, however, the many health and safety considerations, as well as logistical and coaching issues, that comes with interscholastic athletics during COVID-19. She pointed to lots of unanswered questions surrounding COVID-19 waivers/releases, locker room safety procedures, sanitization of equipment, transportation, the presence of fans/spectators, expectations for coaches and more.

In response to a question from School Committee member David Ragsdale, Muzio said that the same athletic opportunities offered to hybrid students would be offered to students who opted for full remote. It will be up to the comfort level of those students and their families if they’d like to participate.

In response to another question from Ragsdale, Muzio said it is possible under the modified competition model that only varsity teams would compete. But it is her hope that Freshmen and JV teams do compete too.

Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand noted that the Athletic Directors and School Superintendents from each Middlesex League high school recently met as a large group to discuss plans. Brand said that while the decision to participate in fall sports — and under what model — is up to each individual school district, the Middlesex League is broadly committed to staying aligned.

“Any and all ideas are being taken into consideration, but — as a league — we want to stay aligned so that if there is athletics, we will have someone to play,” said Muzio.

The School Committee will vote at its next meting on September 9, 2020 to approve an athletic model for fall sports — full participation, modified competition, or no interscholastic athletics. In the meantime, school officials will continue a dialogue with their counterparts across the Middlesex League, as well as monitor further developments from the MIAA and DESE.

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