high school basketball

Local high school teams including Arlington and Leland & Gray, seen here at the start of the 2019-20 season, are free to begin practicing for the coming winter season.

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MONTPELIER — High school winter sports teams may begin practicing as long as they follow the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, Gov. Phil Scott said Thursday.

But Scott, during his twice-weekly COVID-19 briefing, stopped short of saying when winter sports seasons will finally begin.

Some schools, including Burr and Burton Academy, have already begun with non-contact “skills and drills” practices, while others including Mount Anthony and Arlington, plan to start on Jan. 11, the same time the schools are set to return to hybrid learning.

The start of the winter sports season had been slated for Nov. 30, with competition set to begin no earlier than Jan. 11, and a lengthy set of protocols for players and coaches to follow. But a surge in COVID-19 cases led Scott to postpone the opening of winter sports until the data showed improvement.

“We’ll continue to watch the data with hopes of restarting games as soon as possible,” Scott said Friday.

The Vermont Principals Association typically sanctions 11 sports for the winter high school season. In November, the organization announced it would not hold competitions in indoor track and wrestling this year due to COVID-19 risks.

Once the games begin they will do so without fans for indoor events.

Scott also said he was lifting guidance directing schools to ask about multi-household gatherings as part of the daily health check assessed of all students attending school in person. That decision, he said, is supported by the very low rate of positive tests among school staff since surveillance testing began in November.

“I would, however, remind everyone that we all have a responsibility to keep schools safe,” Scott said.

Greg Sukiennik covers Vermont government and politics for New England Newspapers. Reach him at gsukiennik@reformer.com.

Greg Sukiennik joined New England Newspapers as a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle in 1995. He worked for The AP in Boston, and at ESPN.com, before rejoining NENI in 2016. He was managing editor of all three NENI Vermont newspapers from 2017-19.


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