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Featured High Schools Scene About Town Sports

Sallies forced to look to Pennsylvania for football opponents

The Salesianum School is now looking out of state to fill out the remainder of its football schedule.

That move came after the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors, in an 8-5 vote on Thursday, rejected a proposal to abandon the automatic bid process for the 2020 state football playoff.

Salesianum, a private Wilmington school without a conference affiliation, has only three games on the schedule, athletics director Scott Mosier told board members via phone.

“We’re two weeks away from the football season starting, and we can’t play a full schedule of games,” Mosier said. “There are 16 Division I big schools, and 15 of those are in two conferences. Salesianum is the only big school that is not in a conference.”

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“Because of this, conferences are able to dictate to the state various rules and motivations of those conferences. With conferences governing their own decision of who gets in and out of specific rules within the conferences, they have and will continue to have the opportunity to control the big schools’ decisions.”

Mosier said Salesianum would normally have its schedule filled by opponents from the Blue Hen Flight A and B conferences or the Henlopen North and South conferences. Not this year, because all of those conferences are locked into league-only games in a truncated season.

“Big schools should basically play big schools, and small schools should play smaller schools or programs,” Mosier said. “These larger school ADs and coaches have verbally committed to playing us, but can’t because conference rules requirements [this year].”

Salesianum sought to play schools that have open dates, such as Wilmington Friends and Sussex Tech, but both those schools turned down the opportunity.

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Mosier brought four options to the board that he thought could help Salesianum:

• Sallies could have filled the lone vacant slot in the Henlopen North Conference, which has seven teams. Salesianum is already playing Dover, Smyrna and Sussex Central. Salesianum would not have been eligible for the conference’s automatic bid since it is not a conference member.

• Get rid of automatic bids as a state tournament qualifier. With only seven regular season games scheduled this year because of COVID-19, the number of teams that qualify for the state playoffs drops from the normal 6 to 4.

• If the board wanted to keep the automatic bid, it could strike down the conference rule that requires conference teams to play each other for the automatic bid.

• Combine Blue Hen Flight A and B conferences with Henlopen North and Salesianum to make a 16-team league and create schedules for all of those schools.

After much discussion between board – on things such as why Sallies weren’t playing rivals St. Mark’s and if Salesianum was making any attempts to gain conference affiliation – a motion was made to dispense with the automatic bid process only for this season.

“I wish you a lot of luck in reaching out to folks in Pennsylvania,” DIAA board chairman Bradley Layfield said, adding that there could be some movement in the DIAA’s next football meeting, scheduled 9 a.m. Oct. 15.

A pitch to allow one scrimmage before the high school football season begins on Oct. 23 did not gain enough votes to change the current regulation.

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Education Featured High Schools

After a decade at Salesianum, president Brendan Kennealey is leaving

Brendan Kennealey
Salesianum President Brendan Kennealey is leaving after the 20-21 school year.

After leading Salesianum School through a highly successful decade, School President Brendan  Kennealey is stepping down at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

The Harvard-educated Kennealey served as the fourth president of the prestigious private Catholic high school for boys and the first lay-person to be named president in the school’s 118-year history. 

In addition to forging a public/private partnership with the City of Wilmington to develop the $25 million Abessinio Stadium, Kennealey was credited by school officials for solidifying enrollment, bringing in a record amount of fundraising, increasingly diversifying the student body and staff, and making the school more accessible through dramatically increased financial aid, among other accomplishments.

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“He came to Salesianum with great expectations from the trustees and the community-at-large,” said Nicholas Marsini, chairman of the Board of Trustees, in a letter to the school community.  “He will leave us having not only exceeded those expectations but having forever changed ours.”

Board members knew of Kennealey’s decision to leave 18 months ago but convinced the 1994 graduate to stay and oversee the completion of the stadium. Kennealey said he is exploring his options after he departs, including launching a residential real estate venture.  He and his family would prefer to stay in Delaware, he said.

“It was the right decision at the time, the right time to come to the end,” he said. “But now the notion of leaving is very, very hard.” 

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Some of the achievements during Kennealey’s time at the helm include:

  • Securing two separate gifts of $10 million and $16 million, which rank in the top 10 of the largest gifts ever to a Catholic high school.
  • Prioritizing accessibility to the school. During his time, financial aid awards increased 340 percent and annual giving nearly tripled.
  • Building a culture of inclusion and increased diversity, tripling enrollment of students of color and advancing initiatives that included a curriculum review and strategic hires to support a variety of cultures and viewpoints.

Of his many accomplishments during his time at the school, Kennealey said he was proudest of the increased available financial aid and the opportunities that afforded many young people. 

Like Salesianum, Kennealey has repeatedly proven his commitment to serving those on the margins. As the school’s President, he was eager to set that tone by example.

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During the 2016-17 school year, he  volunteered to simultaneously serve as the interim president of Nativity Prep, a school he helped found with the Oblates in 2003. In addition to serving on numerous non-profit boards, Kennealey also created a book club for the prisoners at the Howard R. Young Correctional Facility (Gander Hill) where he taught Homer’s “Odyssey” and other major works for many years.

An eight-member search committee has been formed to identify the next school leader, with the assistance of a yet-named national search firm. The school’s website invites anyone with questions or comments on the search for Kennealey’s successor to share their input at presidentialsearch@salesianum.org.

The search for Salesianum’s fifth president is being chaired by Salesianum School Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Robert Byrne ’80. To learn more about the search and transition, go to  salesianum.org/presidential-search.

 

 

 

 

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Featured Government Health High Schools Sports

State: Fall sports can go ahead, but football, wrestling teams must wear masks

Parents and high school athletes rallied on The Green in Dover to urge the state to let them play. Photo by Dave McCallum.
Parents and high school athletes rallied on The Green in Dover to urge the state to let them play. Photo by Dave McCallum.

NOTE: This report has been updated throughout.

The state has issued new guidelines on fall sports, saying they can go on, but those participating in a high-risk sports such as football or wrestling must wear face coverings to play, among other things.

The new rules, set into law as the 26th modification to Gov. John Carney’s State of Emergency order governing all things related to the COVID-19 pandemic, also require leagues to apply to be able to play and require any facilities that are hosting events to follow cleaning and other guidelines that mimic those schools must follow.

An embargoed copy of a press release appeared on the Facebook Group Delaware HS Athletes Parents Group early Tuesday afternoon before it was released by Carney’s office. That  group and others have been advocating to overturn the decision of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, which voted to shorten all high school sports seasons and put fall play between winter and spring.

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“I know the DIAA when it made its original judgment decision on sports this fall made it on the basis of a whole series of criteria, not just the public health criteria,” Carney said. “My guess is that they’ll take another look at it. I would encourage them to take another look at it with the new guidance that we’re providing today.”

Many have asked why high schools are not playing, but youth leagues are registering players and seem set to play. Carney has said several times that the youth leagues worried him, and last week, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said the state was looking at new rules about sports but she didn’t elaborate.

The new guidelines divide fall sports into three categories:

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  • High risk: Activities that involve sustained or repeated close contact. Includes ice hockey, basketball, tackle football, boys’/men’s lacrosse, wrestling, boxing, rugby, competitive cheer, martial arts, ultimate frisbee and pairs figure skating.
  • Medium risk: Activities that involve participants in close proximity and typically involve intermittent personal contact. Includes baseball, softball, field hockey, girls’/women’s lacrosse, soccer, flag or 7-on-7 football, team running, running clubs and track and field, team swimming, rowing (other than with household members), sailing, volleyball, dance class, fencin, and gymnastics.
  • Low risk: Activities that are either individual or able to be completed with adequate social distancing and no direct physical contact. Includes singles tennis, golf, individual running and swimming, pickleball, disc golf, individual biking, surfing, horseback riding, individual sailing, fishing, hunting, motor sports and singles rowing.

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Delaware’s new rules modify guidelines released in June by the state. Carney said then that he could not imagine that football could be played with face coverings. Now he can. 

The guidelines announced Tuesday allowed some flexibility because up until now, many of the sports had not been allowed, Carney said.

“So now for the first time we do have guidance here and it mostly centers around wearing protection and keeping those respiratory particles from escaping from one player to another,” the governor said.

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Carney and Jamie Mack, director of Public Health Systems Protection, said they and state workers had looked at a lot of tournaments and facilities before the guidelines were made.

Carney said he watched an Alabama high school game over the weekend on ESPN.

“That’s not the way we’re going to propose to do it here in Delaware,” Carney said.  Players, coaches and spectators there were not wearing masks or socially distancing, he said.

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“I tried to simplify the guidance that was earlier made public,” Carney said during the press conference. “So the main thing is to encourage all athletes, coaches, parents, referees, everybody involved in the event to take the guidance and the guidelines seriously. And the most important thing is to wear a mask.”

Mack, director of Public Health Systems Protection, said football players may be more successful wearing a gaiter face covering instead of a traditional mask. Gaiters are stretchy material that sit on the neck and are raised over the nose and mouth.

“We’re not being prescriptive with this,” Mack said. “We’re not describing how to do face coverings in football … We don’t want public health to figure out how to do these sports. The players, the coaches, the families, the communities are going to be much better positioned to tell us how we can safely do it.”

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Among the new guidelines:

  • Players should wear face coverings and social distance where possible.
  • Benches and dugouts will be subject to social distance rules, partly because observers at games that have been played say no one is following those guidelines.
  • Referees must wear face coverings and they will  have to find an alternative to whistles. The yelling that refs must to do be heard and the power of air through a whistle means any virus particles are accelerated through the air.
  • Coaches mush wear face coverings and social distance from any kid who is not a member of their own household.
  • Parents and other spectators must social distance while watching, but can take off masks. If they move from their seats, they must wear masks.
  • Children’s school gear needs to be spread out, so the kids aren’t bunching up in a group to grab it after a game.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available during games if players want to use it.
  • Hands must be washed for at least 20 seconds before and after games and practices.
  • Facilities must disinfect high touch, high contact surfaces such as light switches, door knobs and railings at least every two hours. Other parts of the facilities must be cleaned at least once a day, or according to the schedule of activities.
  • Facilities must develop protocols for things like arrival and departure procedures, health assessments and dealing with players who may develop symptoms during a game or practice.
  • The shared used of locker rooms, water fountains and equipment is discouraged.
  • Each facility must identify a COVID-19 coordinator.
  • All tournaments and indoor activities must be approved by the Division of Public Health.

 

 

 

 

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Education Featured Government Health High Schools

State to add machines that will quickly test for COVID on site

A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency said the state is about to buy some portable testing machines.
A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency said the state is about to buy some portable testing machines.

The state has been testing machines that allow quick answers on Covid-19 tests at the testing sites themselves.

A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Division of Emergency management, said the federally approved new technology offers point-of-care machines that require nasal swabs.

The machines can give answers in 15 minutes, Schall said.

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The portable machines, which could be located at schools or universities, was one of many aspects of testing that Schall, Carney and others touched on during Gov. John Carney’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday.

The topics included a dip in testing in August, the ramping up of testing for schools and students, and an expansion of testing by Walgreens. Health officials also asked residents to resume health screenings for cancers and to make sure children see their doctors for immunizations.

Carney also said the state is applying for federal money to increase unemployment payments and plans to budget money to resurface roads hurts in recent bad weather.

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The portable testing machine

Schall said Dr. Rick Pescatore, the chief physician for the Delaware Division of Public Health, had been testing the machines.

“We’re working to finalize a contract to get those in sate, and then strategically locate them,” Schall said.

Pescatore is “working on a few partners to really see how we could use that to become a force multiplier,” Schall said. “Not only would be it faster turnaround, it would be higher through-put” and have economical advantages.

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Testing down in August

The number of Delawareans tested for COVID-19 in July hit a high of 71,000, coming on the heels of an outbreak in the beaches and expanded testing statewide.

Bad weather in August closed testing sites, and there hasn’t been a big emotional moment like the outbreak, Schall said. He expects the numbers of people to be tested in August to hit around 50,000, which would mirror June. He expects it to rebound in September, partly because of tests for kids going back to class in K-12 and at universities.

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Schools, home tests, Walgreens

Schall said the state will start testing in school districts now, usually about a week to 10 days before the kids go back to class in that district. Testing is free and no appointments are necessary.

Staff will meet families in parking lots to take care of paperwork, and then small groups will be escorted into the schools, usually into gyms, for testing, he said. Masks and social distancing are required.

Doing the tests inside allows it to continue even if it rains, he said.

The testing at schools are open to all community members, he said.

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Schall also said:

  • The state has sent about 11,000 test-at-home kits to teachers, faculty and staff. He’s pleased at the 48- to 72-hour turnaround on tests.
  • “We’re looking to expand this in early to mid-September for individuals, maybe over the age of 60 or those who don’t have transportation so they could get that test right at their house.”
  • The state Division of Public Health has been working with Walgreens to plan five more testing around the state. There are now three, one in every county. “The nice thing about the Walgreens is that they are seven days a week, so it provides a little bit more flexibility.”
Dr,. Karyl Rattay of the Delaware Division of Public Health urged people to return to their doctors for screenings, immunizations.
Dr,. Karyl Rattay of the Delaware Division of Public Health urged people to return to their doctors for screenings, immunizations.

Immunizations and health screenings

Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, pointed out that childhood immunizations dropped dramatically during April and May. It started to bounce back, but not to the level it should, she said.

“The vaccinations obviously are extremely important in and of themselves, but they’re also really important indicators for our kids getting their well child visits,” she said.

Those visits soon will include flu shots, which are critical this year, she said.

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It’s safe to take kids back to the doctor, she said.

Adult visits for chronic conditions as well as health screenings such as mammograms, cervical cancer and colorectal exams also plummeted when the state was shut down because of the novel coronavirus, she said.

They have not bounced back.

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Studies show that people with underlying conditions — asthma, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or cancer — whose conditions are under control fare better if infected with COVID-19, she said.

The state wants to encourage people to reconnect with their health care providers about their conditions, and to have screenings for cancers. If a cancer is caught early, it’s easier to treat, Rattay said.

If you are underinsured or not insured, she said, the Healthy Delaware program can make sure you get the tests.

Gov. John Carney demonstrates how to correctly wear a face mask during his Tuesday press conference.
Gov. John Carney demonstrates how to correctly wear a face mask during his Tuesday press conference.

All hail Newark

Gov. John Carney praised the Newark emergency rule passed Monday night that limits the number of people in a home to 12 adults and the number of adults outside to 20.

While one council member says the rule is just another bargaining chip, it has both fines and hours of community service attached as penalties upon conviction.

“I think the Newark restrictions make a lot of sense, because they’re based on what we’ve seen across the country, which is off-campus parties that get out of control and alcohol is involved,” Carney said.

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“We don’t want to see it here in Delaware,” he said.

When he was in college, he said, he would have had that kind of party and made a joke of it, he said.

“It’s not funny,” he said. “And it’s really, really putting people at risk.” He said the rule would prevent the spread of the virus and maybe even save lives.

“Mayor Clifton, I think he is doing an excellent job and trying to manage what’s a very challenging situation,” Carney said.

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Education Featured Government Health High Schools Sports

High school athletes, parents ask state to let fall sports play now

DOVER – Delaware Military Academy sophomore Ashley Hughes stood in front of Delaware Legislative Hall Saturday to send a clear message to Gov. John Carney and other state officials that she and her fellow student-athletes want their sports back in the fall.

Hughes and about 100 student-athletes, their parents and supporters were part of a “Let Them Play Delaware” event meeting on The Green to air their feelings about the Delaware Interscholastic Athletics Association pushing all fall sports were back to early 2021. They will play between shortened winter and spring seasons.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the thousands of student-athletes in Delaware who deserve to have a fall sports season this fall,” Hughes said. “My question to Gov. Carney, the DIAA and the Board of Education where is your concern for us the students?

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“You shut down our schools in March and canceled our spring sports season due to the spread of COVID and the many unknown factors about the virus. It is now the end of August. Doctors have a better understanding of the virus, and the data does not support delaying the fall sports season. In fact, the data supports having a fall sports season.”

Isolating students has increased mental health issues, anxiety and teen suicide, she said, which poses much more of a threat than COVID.

Linda Moffett, a grandmother from Newark, choked back tears as she talked about taking her grandson Joshua to the military academy to pick up books from school.

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“These kids in line are waving and cheering each other from their cars,” she said. “They haven’t seen each other in six months. These kids need to be together. “It’s unfair, it’s cruel, and everyone is passing the buck.”

It’s easy to close schools and cancel seasons, Moffett said.

“Do you know how many kids are thriving on the extra hours that they can stay in school, are underprivileged, are going home to who knows what.” she said, “but they love those extra two or three hours that they get to stay and get to play a sport because the sports teams are their family?”

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“You don’t get these years back,” said Red Lion Christian Academy football head coach and athletics director Ken Anderson.

He said Delaware athletic directors had a good plan to have fall sports begin practice in September, with games starting in October and the seasons going into December.

Anderson said schools had developed such things as QR codes and scanning documents to help keep players, and staff members safe. Transportation was another issue they focused on because some student-athletes would have a hard time getting to practice, he said.

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Anderson and other ADs presented their plan to the DIAA board at its Aug. 6 meeting before it voted 15-0 to postpone fall sports.

“I don’t know if you listened to the meeting, but for me it really made me nauseous,” Anderson said. “If you listen to it, ‘Let’s refer back to 10-10, 10-8-4.’

“These are our kids. There was no empathy, no drive or mission there to get them back on the field, so they voted to kick it down the road.”

Jill Dietrich, whose son is a senior at Salesianum School, saw the DIAA Let Them Play petition on Facebook. As of last Saturday afternoon, more than 5,500 had signed it.

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“We just want them to play,” Dietrich said. “We want them out of the house. They’ve been locked down since March 13, and we’re lucky because we (Salesianum) get to go back hybrid starting next week, so they will have interaction with students.”

Dietrich is concerned students going to school virtually will not get the interaction they would have in a face-to-face or hybrid option.

Her son wants to play volleyball in college.

“Our spring season was taken away from us, so he didn’t get have video and the looks from recruiters,” she said. “A lot of this is getting taken away from these kids. Division I and Division II have been targeting these kids, but kids who want to play Division III, these are the times they are looking at these kids.”

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Kelly Boettcher, whose twins Lexi and Logan attend Caravel Academy, decided to start the Delaware HS Athletes Parent Group page on Facaebook three weeks ago for parents who didn’t think the DIAA ruling was acceptable.

She thought 50 to 100 people who join by the next morning. Within two days, more than 1,000 people were part of the group.

“Never did I think that I would be here in Dover two weeks later,” she said. “We just want the kids and parents to have the choice for what we think is best for our kids. If kids don’t want to play, they don’t have to play. We just want that choice.”