EEE upends schedules and ramps up anxiety on Southcoast


Molly Rioux

The now-common insect repellant shower.

The Dartmouth Athletic and Music Departments are making modifications to their routine after school schedules, since the Town of Dartmouth declared that all activities must conclude by 5:30 p.m, due to the moderate EEE threat. 

 Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is an extremely rare but often fatal infection that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The spread of EEE to mammals occurs through the bite of infected mosquitos. 

It is known for mosquitoes to bite in the hours of dusk to dawn. This has caused the Town of Dartmouth and many other surrounding towns to establish a 5:30 p.m curfew for all outdoor activities. Although this curfew was put into place for safety purposes, student athletes and musicians are having to make scheduling adjustments following the conclusion of the school day. 

Assistant Principal and Football Coach Michael Martin explained how Dartmouth Football is working on “efficiency and not wasting time at practice,” since the team has to be off the fields by 5:30. In addition to the cut off for practice time, Friday night football games are no longer going to kickoff at 7:00 in the evening. Mr. Martin explained that the seniors on the varsity football team are dissapointed about not being able to play under the lights like in past seasons, but they are excited to have a new home turf at Dartmouth Memorial Stadium. 

The varsity football team kicked off their season opener at Dartmouth Memorial Stadium on Friday, September 13, at 4:00 in the afternoon losing 33-27 in overtime against the Old Rochester Regional Bulldogs. “The new rules should speed up the game,” said Mr. Martin. Following the rule change, he added that “the game should end around 6:00 p.m,” even though that is slightly past the curfew.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Association (MIAA) recently adopted the football rules from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) that include about 238 changes, some affecting game timing.

Senior Boys Varsity Soccer defender Nate Stone said that he was “looking forward to getting a bigger crowd at night games since it builds more of a crowd. The night games add something indescribable that a mid-afternoon game would not.” Stone added that he is “assuming [the boys soccer team] will not play night games because of the curfew.”

Alto saxophone section leader Senior Jonathan Bacdayan from the DHS Marching Band said, “It is rather convenient not to come back at night for practice,” as the marching band had to do in previous years for night practices. Bacdayan and the marching band are still rehearsing in three-hour increments, but now from the hours of 2:30-5:30. 

Bacdayan explained that “the band is not practicing before [Friday football games], and they don’t have time to move the [pit] instruments to the halftime show.” Therefore, only the wind and drums will only be performing at the half as opposed to the competition show that has been executed in prior seasons. 

Junior Field Hockey Captain Morgan Paiva said, “We can’t have any night practices or even night games, so the scheduling around that has been a little challenging.”

Although the moderate threat could last for at least another 30 days until the first frost, and schedules will continue to be affected, “student safety always comes first,” Mr. Martin said.