State officials announced Friday afternoon the date for high school winter sports tryouts and practices will be pushed back from December 14 to January 4.

The rising number of COVID-19 positive cases throughout the state prompted the delay for team practices, though individual skills workouts can still begin Monday, December 7, which was the date set previously by the Maine Principals Association, in accordance with state officials.

Friday's press release stated, "skill-building drills or conditioning" can still begin as scheduled "with face coverings, physical distancing, no close contact, and in limited numbers when possible."

It should be noted that in order to begin those workouts Monday, and eventually tryouts + practices when the time comes, schools must still be located in counties which receive a green designation from the Maine Department of Education.

The Maine DOE updated its designations on Friday and added Oxford County to the list of counties with a yellow designation, along with Androscoggin, Somerset and York counties which already had a yellow designation. This means schools in those four counties cannot currently participate in any interscholastic activities.

Franklin County and Washington County were upgraded to green as their new case rates have fallen below the state average. Penobscot County will be "closely monitored" according to the release, as case numbers continue to rise.

The color-coded list will be updated next Friday, which may prompt further change to which schools will be able to participate in the skill workouts starting next week.

MPA and state guidelines had previously announced that games could begin on January 11, though that date is likely to be pushed back now as well.

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