In this Oct. 25, 2019, file photo, Hampden Academy's Robert Buzzini (partially obscured) and Bangor midfielder Damian Sheffer (13) compete for the ball during a soccer game in Bangor. The Bangor School Committee voted Thursday night to allow its schools to compete this fall.  Credit: Natalie Williams | BDN

Bangor Superintendent of Schools Betsy Webb said recently the school department would dot all the i’s and cross the t’s before deciding on whether to allow students to compete in sports this fall.

That process came to its conclusion on Thursday night when the school committee voted 6-0 to approve athletic competition in soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and 7-on-7 flag football.

Tackle football and volleyball, which are categorized as higher-risk sports under COVID-19 restrictions, have been postponed statewide until next spring.

The Bangor School Committee voted to accept the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee for Return to Play, a 22-member panel that included Bangor school administrators, school committee members, teachers, staff, coaches and parents.

“This is a very good plan, which is consistent with what other school districts are doing and I would go so far as to say that it’s better because it’s matching our return-to-school policy,” Bangor school committee chair Warren Caruso said.

“Athletics are being played around the country at some level or another and we’re taking probably the most conservative approach to the return of sports, which I’m OK with.”

The 19-page return-to-athletics plan largely follows safety recommendations made by numerous state agencies, including the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Principals’ Association.

“It was up to us to manage that information and put it into a Bangor plan,” Caruso said. “We already had a plan for the school reopening and we used the plan for the reopening to shape the return to athletics plan.”

“This has been vetted by no less than a dozen health professionals,” he added.

Because of the governor’s executive order limiting outdoor gatherings statewide to 100 people, spectators will not be allowed to attend fall sports contests, though Webb said efforts are being made to provide live streaming of the events.

Principal Paul Butler added that accommodations are being made for traditional Senior Day games with parents on site.

Many schools in Maine began holding sports tryouts and practices on Monday, the first date allowed by the MPA. That organization finalized its recommendations for a return to play after consulting with several state agencies.

The first game of the fall season may be played on Sept. 25, while the final contests must be completed by Nov. 14.

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Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...