SULLIVAN — At least one Hancock County high school will not provide any athletic offerings this fall.
Sumner Memorial High School’s fall 2020 season is off the table after the Regional School Unit 24 Board of Directors voted Tuesday to suspend all fall athletics. The decision comes a day after a stinging letter from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education commissioners recommended a further postponement of the fall season.
“The Board is very aware of the importance of athletics to our students and our communities but felt that the safety of our students, staff and school community is the top priority,” RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman said in a statement. “The fluidity of the guidance being provided and the risk of the transmission of the coronavirus in our schools through participation in athletics necessitated this decision.”
The decision means Sumner students will be unable to compete in golf, cross-country, volleyball, or soccer this fall. It also means a small group of Sumner students who participate in football as part of a cooperative arrangement with Ellsworth High School will not be able to do so should a 2020 season materialize.
In a Facebook Live Q-and-A session Wednesday, Sumner Principal Ty Thurlow addressed questions from parents regarding the school district’s decision. The difference in guidelines set forth by the Maine Principals’ Association, state agencies and RSU 24 itself, Thurlow said, simply made a fall sports season too difficult.
“We have a very strict set of guidelines to get students back into the building for their education, and unfortunately, the guidelines we’ve been given thus far for a return to athletics are slightly different,” Thurlow said. “That leaves some answers to be sought after, and at this time, those answers have not been provided.”
RSU 24, which also includes Cave Hill School in Eastbrook, Ella Lewis School in Steuben, Mountain View School in Sullivan and Peninsula School in Gouldsboro, is the second Hancock County school district to cancel some or all fall 2020 athletic offerings. Last week, Consolidated School District 13 (Deer Isle-Stonington) announced it would not be offering soccer this fall.
The Ellsworth American will have updates on fall sports decisions from other Hancock County school districts once that information is made available.