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State Task Force Lays Out Sports Scenarios

The possibility of switching sports to different times of the year was among the scenarios laid out by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s COVID-19 Task Force for the 2020-21 high school year Wednesday afternoon.

The group met for the second time Tuesday after previously coming up with guidelines for summer workouts. A recap of this week’s meeting from the NYSPHSAA makes it clear the potential scenarios are only a “starting point” or “framework” to assist the task force in providing guidance and suggestions if necessary.

Focus is on safety of the student-athletes, followed by keeping them engaged. Championship events are a low priority and fan attendance ranked very low in importance in a survey conducted by the NYSPHSAA of nearly 6,000 superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches. Any implementation of these early suggestions from the NYSPHSAA would also need to follow general state and local guidelines and regulations, with health departments also potentially playing a role in determining fan attendance.

The task force has included tentative potential dates and the scenarios are based on National Federation of High School Sports’ risk assessments for sports, which put wrestling, football, boys lacrosse and competitive cheer as high-risk sports based on close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers and high probability of respiratory particles being transmitted between participants.

Sports considered moderate risk include basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, ice hockey and gymnastics, with some events within sports such as swimming and track either moderate risk or low risk depending on the number of competitors and the potential to clean equipment between participants.

Among the many questions that would need to be addressed in any adjusted situation would be the availability of facilities and personnel such as coaches and officials. The task force also leaves open the possibility of sections or regions adjusting sports seasons depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in those areas. Other items to be considered would be practice requirements, screening student-athletes and coaches, and possibly extending spring seasons into July.

Multiple potential scenarios were outlined:

¯ Schools open for in-person learning, with athletics: In this situation sports would be played as normally scheduled, with social distancing regulations in place. Practices for fall sports would begin as scheduled Aug. 24, with competitions to follow.

¯ Schools open with hybrid education or distance learning, with athletics: A hybrid learning setting would include a combination of in-school classes and virtual learning. Distance learning would include remote classes, as schools did in the spring after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

In the latter two situations, there are two possible scenarios that involve moving some sports around to different times of year, putting lower risk sports in the fall, moderate risk sports in the winter and higher risk/moderate risk sports in the spring.

NY SEASON ADJUSTMENT A

¯ Fall season (Aug. 24-Dec. 5): baseball, softball, outdoor track and field, golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving, girls lacrosse and bowling.

¯ Winter season (Nov. 16-March 20): basketball, indoor track, gymnastics, boys swimming and diving, ice hockey, skiing, volleyball and Unified Sports bowling.

¯ Spring season (March 15-June 12): football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, boys tennis, wrestling, Unified Sports basketball.

NY SEASON ADJUSTMENT B

¯ Fall season 1 (Aug. 24-Oct. 17): golf, tennis, bowling, cross country.

¯ Fall season 2 (Oct. 19-Dec. 12): swimming and diving, gymnastics, volleyball.

¯ Winter season (Jan. 4-Feb. 19): basketball, indoor track and field, ice hockey, skiing, Unified bowling.

¯ Spring season 1 (March 1-April 24): football, soccer, field hockey, competitive cheer, Unified basketball.

¯ Spring season 2 (April 26-June 12): baseball, softball, outdoor track and field, lacrosse, wrestling, Unified basketball.

CONDENSED SEASONS

The task force also addressed the possibility of no sports at the start of the school year, laying out a scenario that includes start times later in the year and condensed 10-week seasons.

¯ Jan. 4-March 13 (season 1): basketball, bowling, gymnastics, ice hockey, indoor track and field, skiing, boys swimming.

¯ March 1-May 8 (season 2): football, competitive cheer, wrestling, cross country, field hockey, soccer, girls swimming, volleyball, Unified bowling.

¯ April 5-June 12 (season 3): baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, tennis, outdoor track and field, Unified basketball.

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