Ellsworth’s Bryce Harmon drives toward the basket during the 2016 Class B boys’ basketball championship game against Lake Region at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Athletes at Lake Region in Naples and other schools in “yellow” counties may begin winter practices after the announcement that the Maine Department of Education’s color-code guidelines will no longer apply to high school sports. FILE PHOTO

DOE color code will no longer apply to high school sports

AUGUSTA — A Maine Department of Education metric for determining the status of in-person learning on a countywide basis will no longer be applied to high school sports.

The Maine Principals’ Association announced Wednesday the revocation of a requirement that counties maintain “green” designations under the DOE’s color-code guidelines in order to participate in high school athletics. The decision, which followed a meeting with state agencies, cleared the way for teams in yellow counties to begin practicing immediately.

The DOE introduced the color code in late July ahead of the 2020-21 academic year and coinciding fall sports season. The guidelines have since been updated every Friday on a two-week basis.

As of the DOE’s latest update to the guidelines last Friday, Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford and York counties are designated yellow. With the exception of Cumberland County, which had been green prior to Dec. 18, the color-code guidelines have precluded teams in those counties from participating in sports since Dec. 4.

Hancock County has been maintained a green designation since the introduction of the color code in the summer. In November, the county was briefly placed on the DOE’s list of counties being closely monitored following an influx in cases locally.

Two neighboring counties, Waldo and Washington, were classified as yellow late in the fall season. The stoppage of high school athletics in Waldo County affected soccer and cross-country contests between Hancock County teams and Searsport District High School.

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