Fryeburg Academy resumed interscholastic practices and games this week despite being located Oxford County, designated as a “yellow” county by the Maine Department of Education.

The Raiders had three events on Tuesday, all with neighboring Lake Region High: a golf match (along with Waynflete), a boys’ soccer game and a 7-on-7 football game.

Fryeburg borders New Hampshire in the southwest corner of Oxford County. On Sept. 25, Oxford County joined  York County in being designated “yellow”in the state’s color-coded school advisory system, meaning there is an elevated risk of spread of COVID-19. As part of its School Sports Guidance released on Sept. 10, the Maine Principals’ Association noted that “should a county be designated yellow or red, there should be no practices or games held until which time they are designated green.”

But as part of that guidance, which was developed with help from several state agencies, local school districts were given a local option: “The county-level color designations are advisory for school administrators. Those administrators may consider local conditions and make their own decisions.”

After sitting out the week of Sept. 27, Fryeburg Academy’s administration decided to continue interscholastic sports this week.

“Even though the county is yellow, our district had no cases at the time of that (designation) and we decided to move forward, knowing that a lot of our cohorts were not going to be able to play,”said Laura Ayer, Fryeburg Academy’s communications director. “At least we could have our students continue to practice after all the things they’ve done in preparation for the season.

“We felt with what our students have endured, and our coaches, with no positive cases in our district or at the Academy, we could continue.”

Ayer said school officials presented their case to the school’s executive board of directors “to make sure they were on board with our decision.”

“We felt it was safe to return,” said Ayer. “We also realize that could change at any time.”

As part of the return, Fryeburg’s athletes are required to wear masks whenever they are on the field.

Right now the Raiders only have one game scheduled for each of their athletic teams, though if Oxford County receives a “green” designation on Friday, Fryeburg will compete against Sacopee Valley in several sports over the weekend.

“It’s been difficult ride,” said Ayer. “I would say the academy administration and our athletic director have worked tirelessly to keep navigating uncharted waters, keeping our students and community safe but also realizing that students really need these outlets.”

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