Wareham High School winter sports to proceed — with covid precautions

Dec 17, 2020

Wareham High School will allow some winter sports — namely boys and girls basketball, hockey and conditioning and fitness — to proceed with a number of covid-19 safety measures in place.

Principal Scott Palladino explained that it had taken a long time to finalize the plans for the winter sports season because of the ever-shifting world created by the covid-19 pandemic. But he said students were reinvigorated by the news that sports would move forward. 

“We’re excited to get this off and running,” Palladino said. “It was awesome to see the students in school on Monday. You could just tell — the environment was a lot different on Monday than it had been in a long time in our school and I think that’s a testament to athletics coming back into play.”

Palladino said two boys and two girls basketball teams will play their seasons. One team of boys and one team of girls hockey will play, and conditioning and fitness will run as well for boys and girls.

To start the season, no spectators will be allowed at any games or practices, Palladino said. The district might reevaluate that decision halfway through the season if the covid-19 situation improves, he said.

Parents who are interested in seeing their children aren’t completely out of luck, however. Palladino announced that WCTV would be live streaming sporting events for people to watch from the safety of their homes.

“That’s a great feature for us, and a great alternative for the parents that want to see their children in sports,” he said. 

As for other covid-19 safety measures, locker rooms will remain closed, referees and coaches will use electronic whistles, athletes must bring their own water bottles (preferably marked with their names) and masks must be worn at all times to name a few.

Palladino explained that the season will continue as long as it remains safe to do so, but some school committee members already had doubts. 

Chairman Michael Flaherty and board member Kevin Brogioli both expressed their concerns about starting up sports with covid-19 cases on the rise and Wareham classified “red” by the state. 

“I don’t question the motives at all,” Brogioli said. “I know you’re doing it because you think it’s in the best interest of the kids, and I’m bringing up my concerns because I think it’s in the best interest of the kids as well.”

Brogioli continued, pointing out specific coronavirus stats that concerned him. 

“Massachusetts is in phase three, step one right now. Wareham is in the red. There were more covid deaths today in the United States than any other day in our history. And there’s two huge family holidays coming up where there’s going to be family gatherings,” Brogioli said. “Could there be a worse time to introduce an indoor sport?”

Palladino said part of the rationale behind launching winter sports was the fact that there have been zero cases of covid-19 transmitted in the school. 

“If we get to a point where it’s unsafe, I’ll be the first one to pull the plug,” Palladino said. “I’m never going to put a kid in an unsafe environment. … With all the precautions we’ve put in place, I feel we’re in a really good place.” 

He added that he thought it was in the best interest of the students to have a winter sports season.