Debate over Windsor youth sports rages

(Internet photo courtesy

School board rules risks too high to allow athletes in school gym;
Proponents claim same safety measures as school sports can be used

by Steve Ball

The RSU #12 School Board has decided that Youth Sports for the 2020/2021 winter season is too risky to allow in the Windsor School gymnasium. At least, according to the latest RSU Board meeting, having Youth Sports in the Windsor School is too risky to allow until March when the decision will be reconsidered. The RSU Board has debated youth sports in multiple meetings since November 2020 and on each occasion the vote remained that with COVID-19 infections on the rise there will be no youth sports activities allowed in the Windsor School facilities. The reaction to this decision has been disappointing and frustrating for Windsor families, volunteers, and the Youth Sports Basketball Commissioner.

Windsor School (internet photo)

When interviewed last week Howie Tuttle, the RSU #12 Superintendent, said the decision was not necessarily permanent, but he indicated the board felt at this moment with rising COVID-19 infections allowing the Pre-K – 6th grade student players in the Windsor school facilities was too risky.

Under normal circumstances, during the winter months, Saturdays at the Windsor School gym are reserved for youth basketball. In Windsor there are nearly 150 children participating in the basketball and cheerleading programs according to Ryan Carver, the Youth Sports Basketball Commissioner and RSU board member. On Saturdays the gym is usually buzzing with youth players, youth cheerleaders, coaches, referees, and parents. It is this increased amount of personal contact that has RSU board members concerned.

On the other side of the discussion the parents, volunteers and Youth Sports Commissioner have appealed that to not have a sports outlet for the younger children is noticeably damaging to the participants psychologically, emotionally, physically, and academically. According to one volunteer, these children are suffering from the COVID isolation and limited outside activities as much, if not more than the older students.

Additionally, many, if not most of the children participants attend the Windsor School as students, so, to see the older students in the Windsor School allowed to play their sports while the younger students are being prohibited from using the facilities for their basketball season compounds the frustration and disappointment among families and children.

According to the RSU board’s meeting minutes the board members’ concerns to having youth in the school facilities ranges from having responsible and accountable people monitoring the conduct of students and adults following Maine Center for Disease Control guidance, to questioning the ability to conduct adequate contact tracing should someone become infected with the COVID virus, to adequate sanitation of the facilities after the Youth games.

According to Carver, he attempted to assure fellow board members that the extra effort made by the middle school sports programs before, during and after games will be also done for the youth sports activities. These assurances did not sway the skeptical board members. The decision remains that there will not be a youth sports basketball season for Windsor youth, at least until it is reconsidered in March 2021.


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