When the Massachusetts Department of Health released its weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report Wednesday, five additional communities in the Merrimack Valley Conference were designated as “red” or high risk, joining Lawrence as regions with over eight cases per 100,000 residents.
With seven of the conference’s 11 schools now in communities designated as red (two schools are in one community), superintendents from Andover, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Methuen, North Andover, and Tewksbury released a statement Thursday announcing they will pause all fall sports designated as moderate risk by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with the intention to reassess after next week’s DPH report is published.
Golf and cross-country, sports designated as low risk by DESE, will proceed as scheduled.
Field hockey, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and girls’ volleyball programs can potentially move forward with modified schedules, or elect to postpone their season to the Fall II period, scheduled from Feb. 22 to April 25.
The MVC already elected to move swimming and diving to the Fall II period, which is scheduled to include football, competitive cheer, and unified basketball. Many leagues have postponed girls’ volleyball to the Fall II period and some have postponed all fall sports to that period.
“We want to proceed cautiously in order to not put our students, their families, or our communities at higher risk until we know more about the trajectory of the virus in this area,” the statement read.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to continue to have interscholastic athletic competitions this fall, and we urge the members of our communities to practice proper health protocols so that our student-athletes can have the opportunity to compete.”