As of yesterday afternoon, Sept. 18, Barrington school administrators were not planning to reschedule games or practices to avoid the early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Coaches are being advised “to take whatever precautions are necessary, such as making sure players apply bug spray and wear long sleeves,” said George Finn, Barrington High Schools athletics director. “But we don’t plan to change starting times at this time.”
That decision could change as summer moves into fall and the sun sets earlier each day, he said.
And as conditions warrant, said Superintendent Michael Messore.
"It will be a judgment call based on conditions," said Messore. "We'll go day to day based on the weather. If there is a lot of standing water, we might change the start time."
“We will make the decisions appropriately,” said Finn. “The health department did not say we can’t continue” to play at the scheduled late afternoon and evening times.
Finn was referring to an advisory distributed to all schools and the media throughout the state late last week that recommends administrators try “smart scheduling” for practices, games and all outdoor activities – usually before 6:30 pm – to help protect players, coaches and spectators.
The health department also provided a short list of precautions that should be taken, such as applying mosquito repellant and wearing long sleeves and long pants.
"We've talked to all the coaches," said Messore.
The department's recommendations are in response to the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus found in Rhode Island. Central Barrington is one of the locations in the state where mosquitoes carrying EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) have been found.
"We will make accommodations as necessary," said Messore. "We certainly don't want to put anyone in jeopardy."
In some cases, though, Finn said, it is very difficult for other teams to travel to Barrington to play games much before 3:45 pm -- when the girls’ field hockey team was scheduled to play Cumberland on Tuesday afternoon.
Finn said he surveyed 20 other school districts to find out what their plans are. He said he found only 6 schools so far planning to reschedule outdoor activities.
Among the schools in the East Bay that are rescheduling some activities are Mt. Hope and Portsmouth high schools.