In this February 2020 photo, Bangor High School's Libby Fleming controls the ball during a Class AA basketball semifinal game against Portland. The Bangor School Committee has approved winter sports. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Bangor School Committee voted Wednesday evening to approve a plan to proceed with high school winter sports along with co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

The vote was 4-2 with one abstention, according to interim superintendent of schools Kathy Harris-Smedberg.

The school committee also voted to proceed with middle-school winter intramurals by a 4-3 vote, she said.

The high school athletic program will follow the “BHS Returning to Athletic and Co-Curricular Activities Addendum to the Bangor School Department Reopening Plan” that was first approved on Sept. 17 for the fall sports season and updated on Dec. 4 to account for winter sports.

“With winter sports there are some significant changes in that we’re inside, so more in-depth safety protocols will have to be implemented, the wearing of masks being one of the biggest things,” Harris-Smedberg said.

Formal practices for high school winter sports statewide have been pushed back to begin no sooner than Jan. 4, 2021, with the first scheduled regular-season contests to come no earlier than next Jan. 11.

The Maine Principals’ Association, in conjunction with the state’s community sports guidelines, is allowing “skills and drills” workouts that began Monday in many high schools around the state. Those sessions are limited to skill-building drills or conditioning with physical distancing, no close contact, and in limited numbers when possible.

Those activities can take place at schools in counties designated as “green” under the Maine Department of Education’s color-coded COVID-19 school health advisory system. Penobscot County is green, according to the Dec. 4 update.

“I’m being told that some of the activities will participate in that, but they do have to follow all of the safety protocols that we have put into place,” Harris-Smedberg said.

According to MPA guidance, high school basketball teams are scheduled to play a reduced regular-season schedule of no more than 12 games of regionalized competition, which for Bangor would be against opponents from Penobscot County or adjacent counties.

The regular season is scheduled to conclude no later than Feb. 27, followed by regional postseason play with details to be determined.

Ice hockey would follow a similarly regionalized regular-season schedule along with possible postseason play.

Virtual meets are anticipated for competitive cheering, and discussion is underway regarding facility access across the state for swimming and diving, as well as the potential for virtual meets in that sport.

As for indoor track, due to the expected inability to access facilities, Bangor High School is not anticipating formal competition in traditional meet formats. Limited events and opportunities may be offered for athletes to safely compete on an informal basis in school facilities.

Ernie Clark

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...