The Maine Principals' Association on Wednesday said it would delay the start of the interscholastic athletics fall season to Monday, Sept. 14.

The joint-decision comes after officials with the Department of Heath and Human Services and Department of Education on Tuesday expressed concerns with the MPA plan and urged the MPA to delay the start of athletics as schools open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The season had been set to start with official team practices on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

"The Maine Principals’ Association agrees with the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education that it would be best to extend the delay of fall sports by one additional week to allow schools to get their academic programs underway as we further adjust our guidance," Mike Burnham, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, said in a statement.

Burnham said the MPA would "work closely and collaboratively" with the administration to modify the association's existing guidance to comply with all state safety protocols.

Gov. Janet Mills said she has asked commissioners to work with the MPA, the Maine School Boards Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association to address any outstanding concerns about the current plan to start the fall season.

"I am a firm believer in the value of school sports which support the physical, social, and mental health of young people,” Mills said. "I want to see fall sports come back this year in a way that protects the health of students on the field, in the locker room and in the classroom, while safeguarding members of the larger community."

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