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MAIS suspends athletic competition for one week

By Ernest Bowker
The Vicksburg Post

The Mid-South Association of Independent Schools has canceled all athletic events and activities for next week over concerns about coronavirus.

In a statement released Saturday, the MAIS said it is recommending its member schools close for one week beginning on Monday. All activities would also be suspended.

The association said it will re-evaluate the situation on a week by week basis beginning on March 23.

“The MAIS will re-evaluate this fluid situation and will provide updates as new information becomes available,” the statement read. “This guidance is in accordance with other states in our region. Waivers will be granted to schools taking this course of action.”

MAIS member schools in the Vicksburg area include Porter’s Chapel Academy, St. Aloysius, Central Hinds Academy, Rebul Academy, Clinton Christian Academy, Tallulah Academy, Briarfield Academy, Sharkey-Issaquena Academy and Tensas Academy.

In its statement, the MAIS said it reached its decision after monitoring information from a number of different state agencies in Mississippi, as well as neighboring states.

“Our goal is to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus while maintaining the quality and integrity of our instructional and athletic programs,” the MAIS statement read.

Porter’s Chapel Academy and St. Aloysius had already decided to close on Monday and Tuesday, and to cancel athletic events on both days. The list of canceled or postponed games included several baseball games, a golf tournament and a tennis match.

“We’re just going to take it day by day and week by week, and follow the recommendation of the association. With them and the MHSAA, I’m sure they’re going to be in contact with the state department of health and have a plan,” PCA athletic director Wade Patrick said. “We’re going to do what’s best for the kids.”

On Friday, the Louisiana and Alabama high school activities associations both suspended competition in accordance with statewide public school closures.

The MAIS has 17 member schools in Louisiana that are considered independent of the state education system and do not fall under the statewide closure decree.

Briarfield Academy, located in Lake Providence, La., announced Friday that it will remain closed through next week.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Tallulah Academy headmaster Mary Lynn Watson said her school will also extend spring break through next week. Athletic practices will continue.

“We don’t want to jump on the ‘panic wagon’ and were going to try, but would have to ask anyone who had traveled to self-quarantine and that would eliminate a number of faculty, staff, and students,” Watson wrote. “For that reason, we are extending spring break through March 20. Should we have to stay closed for a longer period, this will give us time for prepare. We are not going to panic, but we are going to be prepared. I am sorry for any inconvenience this causes and I hope you are all able to stay well.”

The Mississippi High School Activities Association has not yet announced if it will suspend competition. It said Thursday that it is monitoring the situation, while allowing individual schools to cancel activities or limit attendance at their own discretion.

Warren Central and Vicksburg High both were scheduled to play softball games at a tournament Saturday in Brookhaven.

Even if statewide competition is not suspended, however, individual school districts that close school and suspend activities will likely disrupt the schedule.

The Vicksburg Warren School District, Madison County School District, Clinton Public Schools and Jackson Public Schools have all announced closures through at least the middle of next week. Since those are considered forced closures, it includes postponement of athletic contests and practices.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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