High school fall picture clearing as some districts agree to limited sport schedules

Cross country will be one of two varsity sports in Berkshire County this fall. Some school districts have approved this sport, along with golf for the fall season.

The picture for high school sports in Berkshire County this fall is clearing up, with the majority of schools in the area opting to compete in just golf and cross-country this fall, with other traditional sports pushed to the new "Fall II" season created by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association for the school year.

The first school district to make a decision on fall sports was Pittsfield Public Schools, which announced it will not host any athletics at either Pittsfield High or Taconic High until Nov. 30. Since then, various school committees have met and made decisions. Those sports include golf, soccer, cross-country, volleyball and football.

Per guidelines from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, all school districts that are going fully remote to start the school year, must get approval from the school committee to participate in sports. Schools that are in hybrid of full in-person learning plans do not have to get school committee approval, although sports could still be postponed or canceled if the districts decides to make the call.

The latest schools to have their sports schedules decided were Mount Everett and Monument Mountain, after the Southern Berkshire Regional School District and Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committees, respectively, met for a meeting Thursday. At the SBRSD, Mount Everett principal Jesse Carpenter presented to the board his plans for the school to offer cross-country and golf this fall, while delaying the other traditional fall sports to the Fall II season. That proposal was passed. Mount Everett students co-op in football with Monument Mountain. At Berkshire Hills, the same proposal was presented and eventually passed by the committee.

McCann Tech is the only other high school in the Berkshires — so far — that has joined the Pittsfield Public Schools in canceling all sports for the fall season. Per an email from athletic director Robert Guettler, all of McCann's fall sports have been postponed to the Fall II season.

McCann's decision to cancel the fall season directly impacts the high school right up the street at Drury. Drury's school committee voted to postpone football and soccer to the Fall II season, but the school committee was willing to allow the two co-op programs at the school, golf and cross-country, to compete if the host school still offered the sport. Drury harriers compete in a co-op with McCann.

But while those three schools will be sidelined for the fall, the rest of the county's high schools are trying to forge ahead with some traditional fall sports. At Wahconah and Mount Greylock, the school committees have given the go-ahead for competitive golf and cross-country — just like Mount Everett and Monument Mountain — while allowing practices for the other traditional fall sports. Competitions for those sports would be in the Fall II season in 2021.

As of publication, there are three high schools in the Berkshires that have not made a final determination on sports: Lee High, Lenox and Hoosac Valley. Lee High School Athletic Director Keith Thomson said in an email to The Eagle that a final decision has not been made yet, but is expected soon.

Hoosac Valley co-athletic director Molly Meczywor told The Eagle in an email that Hoosac Valley is still debating which, if any sports will be held in the fall. In a phone call, Lenox assistant principal Brian Cogswell said the decision, and ultimate announcement will come from the school superintendent.

Elsewhere in western Massachusetts, high schools are split on their plans. According to MassLive, 21 high schools in the western part of the state have approved a full slate of approved fall sports — football for everyone will be in Fall II — while 14 schools have partially approved sports. In the schools that partially approved, most included field hockey as an approved sport — no Berkshire school offers the sport to students — while several others have approved volleyball.

Only one other school, Southwick, district besides Pittsfield, per the MassLive article, has postponed all sports.

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.