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Regarding: Fall 1 Sports Season
October 28, 2020
Dear Gardner Public Schools Families and Staff,
This morning I met with the Gardner Public Schools’ Nurse Leader, Athletic Director, and High School Principal, as well as the city’s Director of Public Health, to discuss the current and projected landscape of COVID-19 as it relates to our interscholastic and intramural sports programs.
We have had no COVID-19 cases in our athletic community to date. However, in response to significant increases in positive COVID-19 case counts in our community and our surrounding communities, we have made the decision to discontinue all athletic programs through the end of the Fall 1 season, which is November 19, 2020. (We will decide on the Fall 2 season, which begins in February 2021, at a later date.)
The decision to embark on athletics in the midst of a pandemic was not one taken lightly, and the decision to cancel was also a thoughtful, yet necessary decision. While I am confident that the protocols we put in place provided the safest environment possible for our athletes, coaches, and fans, rising case counts in Gardner and our neighboring communities have created a level of potential risk beyond the scope of our own safety protocols. In fact, several schools we play have already cancelled some or all of their season, and some have even had to move from a hybrid learning model to remote because of the number of cases in their schools. Fortunately, that has not been the case in Gardner.
We consider athletics an essential piece of our educational model; one that helped guide many of our students through remote learning and a new normal in their everyday lives. However, as we navigate our way as a district back to in-person learning, eliminating the potential risk of cross-community and intra-community spread via athletics is critical. Reducing the likelihood of close contact with others in athletic programs increases the likelihood that students and staff will be able to continue their educational activities.
I am tremendously proud of the resiliency and commitment of our coaches, volunteers, administration, families and student-athletes for all that they were able to accomplish this season. While I understand that cutting this season short is painful, it should not diminish what each of our teams, collectively, were able to accomplish.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at (978) 632-1000.
Mark J. Pellegrino, Ed.D.