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SVSU cancels athletic events, practices until March 27

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BENNINGTON — Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union superintendent Jim Culkeen made the decision on Friday to cancel all after-school activities, including athletic practices, games and events, until March 27.

The restriction will begin on Monday and go through next Friday, when Culkeen will reassess the situation with the guidance of the Vermont Department of Public Health and the Department of Education.

The use of school facilities by community organizations will not be allowed until further notice.

"These restrictions are being put in place to protect our primary mission, the education of our students. By limiting outside access to our buildings it is our hope to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This situation is ever-changing and I will continue to update you as it unfolds," said Culkeen in a press release on the SVSU website.

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Through the rest of the state, the Vermont Principals Association decided to cancel the rest of the winter sports tournaments.

In a press release put out on Friday morning, the VPA said, "It is with sincere regret that we announce the cancellation of the remainder of the winter sports season,

specifically the remaining girls' basketball tournament games in all four divisions. We recognize the disappointment that this unprecedented experience is for our hard-working student athletes, their coaches, and their fans. Basketball is a sport that brings athletes into extremely close proximity to one another, and given the guidance from health officials at both the state and national levels, it is necessary to make this difficult decision to ensure that we do not inadvertently contribute to the spread

of COVID-19 in Vermont."

At the same time, the VPA didn't make any decisions about spring sports. Practice for all sports is supposed to begin on March 23.

"We will be in contact with school officials, health officials, and athletic directors regarding the most reasonable and safe path forward regarding spring sports and any additional VPA hosted or monitored gatherings this spring," according to the press release.

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In Arlington, school district leaders have canceled the outside use of Arlington school facilities, such as AAU basketball, men's league basketball and indoor soccer, until further notice.

At the school level, practice is scheduled to start on time on March 23.

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"Arlington kids will start spring practice [on time], as of now that's our goal," said Arlington school board president Todd Wilkins. "We're taking our cues and lead from the VPA and the [Agency of Education] and there haven't been any decision to cancel yet. Of course, that could change tomorrow or Monday."

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In New York State, winter championships remain indefinitely postponed, including Cambridge's run in the Class C girls basketball tournament. According to NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas, the championships may happen at a later date.

"[Dr. Zayas] is cautiously optimistic the winter state championships will be conducted for our student-athletes. Winter sports teams may continue to practice at the approval of their school district," according to a press release.

Teams will be given ample time to prepare if the championships are re-scheduled.

Spring practice has already started in New York state, but Section II stated in a letter to schools and athletic directors that scrimmages, games and other events are postponed until at least April 19.

According to the letter from Section II executive director Ed Dopp that went out on Friday around noon, schools can make the decision to allow practices to continue or to cancel.

Local schools, Hoosick Falls and Cambridge, as of Friday night, have decided to continue practices for now.

"We're in a unique position with basketball still playing and hanging on hoping they can play," said Cambridge athletic director Deb Lauver.

One basketball player also plays softball and several compete in outdoor track.

"We plan to practice on Monday," Lauver said. "But with games postponed until April 19, we may back off eventually. It could change in a minute, we're in unchartered waters."

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More local sports events have been canceled, including the Monumental Swim Meet, scheduled for March 28 and the youth wrestling tournament scheduled for March 21 at the Mount Anthony Middle School.

The NHSCA Nationals wrestling tournament, canceled on Thursday, has been rescheduled tentatively for May 19-21, still at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. It is unknown if Mount Anthony athletes, which would number 15 or 20 in a normal circumstance, will go down for the event.


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