School sports this winter: fans and masks

FAMILY MEMBERS AND friends of the Mount Abe field hockey team offered the Eagles plenty of support as they won the Division II championship on UVM’s Moulton Winder Field in November. Independent file photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — All local high school sports will occur this winter, according to a Nov. 3 agreement among 16 northwestern Vermont school districts that include those in Addison County, but masks will be required for spectators, coaches and participants in most of the sports.

The member districts of the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association (CVSA) also “strongly recommend that all eligible student-athletes get vaccinated,” calling vaccination a “proven mitigation strategy (that) will ultimately ensure athletes can stay in school and compete safely throughout the season. If an athlete is vaccinated, they will not be required to quarantine should an exposure occur.”

The CVSA also states that its planned “Test to Stay” program would only allow unvaccinated athletes to practice with their teammates, but would not “enable involvement in interscholastic competition (i.e., games, meets or competitions).”

Masks will be required for all athletes, coaches, referees, officials and spectators during practices and competitions whether they are vaccinated or not.

The only exceptions are indoor track participants if they are maintaining social distancing, and wrestlers, gymnasts, and dance and cheer team members during competitions.

Spectators will be allowed, according to the CVSA, “as long as compliance with protocols are followed.” If they are not, schools could limit or ban spectators. The only exception to masking will be to allow eating in a designated area.

Fans might also be required to sit in designated areas to allow for contact tracing to be performed later by the Department of Health.

If school facilities allow, locker rooms can be used by both home and away teams this winter.

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