AGAWAM, MA (WGGB / WSHM) – Officials in the city of Agawam have confirmed they are reducing the use of their school’s athletic fields due to concerns over COVID-19.
Mayor Bill Sapelli said Parks and Rec initially opened the outdoor facilities because varsity athletes wanted to get in shape for any semblance of a season they might have this year. However, he said there were now concerns that they were not being used responsibly.
“The sports that we know from our facility, which is a city park if you will, are women’s field hockey and boys and girls football,” he said.
Sapelli has said for the moment that field hockey and football are considered a moderate risk by the state for COVID-19, which means they are allowed to be played with social distancing measures in place.
Sapelli said before Monday that the Parks and Recreation Department had opened some outdoor sports fields.
Now, Sapelli has said concerns over COVID-19 are pushing its staff to reduce the use of the fields.
Citing Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, he said coaches were not allowed in any sort of team meeting held on the field.
“It is illegal for the school to be involved anywhere with its coaching staff during the offseason,” Sapelli said.
He said the captain’s practices often take place in the summer with only the athletes, but this year he established a rule requiring the presence of an adult who was not on the coaching staff.
“When this year came up with all the issues we explained to them if they were going to use our fields, that they should have an adult supervisor to make sure they were following the proper protocol due to COVID-19.
Sapelli has not confirmed what type of COVID-19 activity could result from using the fields, but said many of the city’s cases so far have come from long-term care facilities.
“More than half were in these health facilities of which we have eight,” he said.
Sapelli said Agawam is frequently compared to other cities that have left their fields open. He said maintaining the artificial turf, in addition to making sure people don’t use bleachers and other amenities near the pitches during the pandemic, is making it too difficult for his staff.
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