Uniontown votes to cancel fall football, soccer seasons

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | 12:05 PM


Uniontown Area School District’s board members voted 9-0 on Monday night to start the 2020-21 school year with online-only instruction and, in turn, decided football and boys and girls soccer should be canceled.

Amid uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, board members decided to follow Gov. Tom Wolf’s recommendation that contact sports should not be allowed if students are not in school.

Cross country, golf and girls volleyball are permittedfor now.

Wolf referenced “contact sports” Monday, but a spokesperson clarified later he was talking about all sports.

While this decision was not well received by some parents and athletes in the district, Uniontown superintendent Charles Machesky and school board vice president Susan Clay each said the decision was the right one for those involved.

“We’re seeking more clarification about volleyball from the state today,” Machesky said. “The governor is supposed to issue more guidelines later this week. I’m not a medical doctor, so this is a decision for the health and well-being for our students, their families and our teachers.

“It’s a difficult decision. I got ripped at the meeting (Monday), and I’m going to get ripped today.”

Football coach Cedric Lloyd said he’s all about safety, and if that’s what’s best for the students, he’s 100% behind it.

Machesky said the board’s Zoom meeting lasted four hours as he and board members tried to answer numerous questions.

“The administration office spent more than 100 hours preparing 52 pages of answers from concerned parents,” Machesky said. “Each page had at least six responses.

“You have people who wear masks and people who don’t. You have some following the recommendations from the government and some that think it’s a hoax. We’ve had parents who urged us to bring the children to school if they wear masks and then the same people who said they’ll pull their child out if other children don’t wear masks.”

Clay called Monday’s meeting miserable.

“I feel good about the decision,” Clay said. “It wasn’t easy. The worst thing that can happen is we were wrong. This is the right decision.

“I don’t want to open up and then have a student get sick and take it home to their family or have someone die because of it.”

WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said no schools have informed her of their intention of canceling fall sports, but she was aware of Uniontown’s decision.

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said Uniontown is the first school in the state to make the decision to cancel contact sports for the fall. Though, Norristown, on the eastern side of the state, made a recommendation to cancel all fall sports last week and is awaiting school board approval.

Last week, the PIAA released return-to-competition guidelines tailored for teams, coaches and officials.

In response to the guidelines, the WPIAL board of directors decided to delay the start date for most fall sports.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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