Runners in the seeded boys race, including Bangor's Dan McCarthy (right) charge off the starting line during the 2019 Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions in Belfast. High school sports in Waldo County have been canceled for the rest of the fall season. Credit: Glendon Rand

High school sports in Waldo County have been canceled for the rest of the fall season after the county received a “yellow” designation on Friday from the Maine Department of Education.

The change came as the result of at least 57 coronavirus cases linked to an outbreak at the Brooks Pentecostal Church and its school, Lighthouse Christian Academy.

The state updates its color designations once every two weeks and if a county goes yellow, all extra-curricular activities are suspended for at least the next two weeks.

The Maine Principals’ Association has established Nov. 14 as the end of the fall sports season and Belfast High School was among the schools planning to halt play on Nov. 4.

The development means the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B cross country championship meet scheduled for Oct. 31 and the state cross country championships slated for Nov. 11 [boys] and Nov. 14 [girls] at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast all must be moved to other venues.

“We had to give the MPA time to find an alternate site for the state meets,” Belfast athletic director Matt Battani said. “Even if we are green in two weeks, that’s too short of a time to prepare for a state meet.”

He said several athletic directors had already expressed concern about traveling to Belfast for games amid the county’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Battani said the worst part for Belfast High is that their cross country runners won’t be able to compete in the state meet because they can’t participate in the KVAC meet in Waterville, where qualifiers are established.

Earlier this week, Belfast High suspended its sports programs and all other extracurricular activities for a week due to the outbreak. Fellow Waldo County schools Mount View High School in Thorndike and Searsport High School postponed games against outside competition for the week.

Mount View continued to hold practices and Searsport cancelled practices on Monday but resumed on Tuesday.

Waldo County is presently the only Maine county that doesn’t have a green rating.

Belfast High School doesn’t have any positive COVID-19 cases. One coach who was under quarantine and another coach who self-quarantined because they thought they had been exposed to the coronavirus have since found out their mutual contact wound up testing negative.

Battani said Waldo County schools are allowed to hold intramural activities, but no decision has been made on whether to do so.