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Leadership statement: Return to in-person competition delayed

Debate and Speech


Thursday night MFA leadership convened, as promised, to discuss how we’re proceeding for tournaments in December—continuing to hold virtual or attempting to resume in-person tournaments. Unanimously we voted to hold all December tournaments remotely and strongly consider January for in-person. No question, we are all itching to return to in-person competition, however we can’t in good conscience ask participants to risk their health and wellbeing until infection rates decline.

While our vote about December was relatively easy, we spent most of the meeting agonizing over what we could do to ensure we have the opportunity to feel some semblance of what used to be before the season’s end—and do so safely. We recognize that recruitment of both students and judges has been inordinately difficult, a circumstance we connect to pandemic fatigue. Despite seeking guidance from the Maine Principals Association, the National Catholic Forensic League, and the National Speech and Debate Association, our plan forward is not clear. The complexities of holding an in-person tournament are unique; no other school activity poses the same dynamics. So we are seeking your input through this anonymous survey, which will close at the end of Thursday, November 18. We welcome you to share this survey with judges, too.

So what’s next? 

  • MFA leadership will reconvene to assess survey results later this month.
  • Throughout December we will define guidelines for returning to in-person competition and coordinate logistics for our first in-person tournament, hopefully in January. We are actively seeking hosts.
  • Portland CFL Director Robinson reports that NCFL Qualifiers will follow MFA guidelines for determining competition format.
  • The Maine NSDA District Committee is required to survey member schools to determine competition format and act according to a ¾ majority. Look for more details soon.

Thank you for doing everything you do and doing so safely. We will see each other soon. Eventually.

MFA officers and moderators (Jason, D’Arcy, Ellen, Lyndsy, Kailey, Dan, Melanie, and David)
Portland CFL Director (D’Arcy)
Maine NSDA District Committee (Lyndsy, Dan, Jason, D’Arcy, and Ellen)