LEWISTON — The Lewiston School Committee voted 7-1 Monday evening to alter outdoor quarantine rules in response to pleas by members of the Lewiston High School field hockey team and their parents.
During public comment, field hockey teammates Savannah Connor-Schade, Jasmine Connor-Schade, Taylor Melvin, Madison Freeman and Calezia Dow and Lexi Freeman expressed dismay at being unable to play in the final game of the season due to quarantine guidelines.
A teammate, with whom they came in close contact, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“We come here because we feel that it’s unfair and inconsistent guidelines that are stopping us from playing our game and going to school,” said Savannah Connor-Schade, pointing to several contradictory policies within the Lewiston Public Schools, and in comparison to the guidelines of Edward Little High School in Auburn.
“We are annoyed, we are upset, we are not happy that we are not able to play in our last game. It is not fair to our senior that she can’t play in her senior night even though she’s spent four years of her life in field hockey to do it,” Savannah Connor-Schade said.
Senior night is a special celebration of achievements and contributions of athletes in their final year.
The School Committee was sympathetic to the students’ situation and their discussion largely focused on potential actions that would allow them to play in their final game.
Some attendees expressed concern about the discussion.
Chairwoman Megan Parks said she felt it may not be fair to make a policy change without giving the school community advanced notice.
Allison Lytton, president of the Lewiston Education Association, a parent and a teacher in Lewiston Public Schools, agreed.
“I think we really need to keep an eye on the equality in these situations and also just make sure there is an informed decision,” Lytton said. “I feel the representation isn’t in the room to truly have a conversation about this.”
After nearly two hours of discussion, Ward 6 representative Ronald Potvin motioned to alter the quarantine windows for students who were participating in an outdoor activity. The new guidelines would allow students designated as close contacts to return to school after seven days if they test negative for COVID-19 with a verified test outside of school on day five, or a rapid test in school on day seven. The motion also states that physical contact must be demonstrated, not assumed.
Members voted 8-1 in favor of the motion, with Ward 1 representative Bruce Damon voting in opposition. The motion covers outdoor sports and other outdoor activities, such as recess.
According to Superintendent Jake Langlais, each of the girls deemed a close contact on the field hockey team will be tested Tuesday. If they receive a negative test, they will be allowed to return to school and play in the final game against Bangor High School on Tuesday evening.
“Thank you to all of you guys for doing this tonight and for listening to us and giving us a chance,” Savannah Connor-Schade said. “Thank you.”
According Chairwoman Parks, the committee will hold a workshop and discussion about the entire standard operating procedure regarding COVID-19 quarantining, likely at the next meeting Nov. 1.