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MPA, State reach consensus on guidelines, announcement expected Thursday

The Maine Principals' Association says a "consensus on the guidelines has been reached with the exception of a few minor edits."

AUGUSTA, Maine — The fate of Maine's fall sports season will be known on Thursday after weeks of collaborative efforts between the Maine Principals' Association (MPA) and State agencies.

The MPA, the Governor's Office, the Maine Departments of Education (DOE), Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Maine School Boards Association (MSBA), and the Maine School Superintendents Association (MSSA) met Wednesday afternoon. 

MPA Executive Director Mike Burham says they've reached a consensus on the guidelines "with the exception of a few minor edits," and the finished documents will be finalized and shared with schools at some point on Thursday.

Last week, the MPA delayed the start of the fall sports season to Sept. 14 so the MPA could resolve concerns the Maine DOE and Maine DHHS expressed over the MPA's approved guidelines. 

After the decision to delay was made, Burnham said, "[We] will work closely and collaboratively with the Administration" to modify their guidance for fall sports and come up with a solution "that will honor the State’s safety protocols and protect the health and safety of student athletes along with their communities." 

RELATED: MPA delays start of fall sports season to Sept. 14

In its letter to the MPA about its plan last Tuesday, the State said the MPA's guidance did not include modifications to the types of play based on risk. 

Football is a high-risk sport under the guidelines which is why it cannot be played between schools. Volleyball is a moderate-risk sport but is the only fall sport played indoors hence the new guidelines. 

Many athletes and parents say they're frustrated over the back forth from the state and MPA over guidelines and are becoming fearful there will not be a fall sports season, particularly for football.

Players and parents rallied in Augusta on Monday, in hopes Gov. Janet Mills and the State would hear their pleas to "let them play." 

"The fact the decision keeps changing and getting pushed back it's really frustrating as an athlete,” field hockey player Francesca Caccamo said at the rally. “We've been social distancing and when we get to practice, we all wear masks until we are spread out. We set out bags six feet apart."

The fall sports season was originally supposed to get underway on Tuesday, Sept. 8.