Officials look at school sports return
LATHAM-The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) held the second meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force Tuesday, June 30.
Representatives from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) provided updates pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis. The task force then discussed the governor's reopening plan and its impact upon interscholastic athletics.
At this time, schools are still prohibited from any indoor activities, any in-person instruction (excluding special education), and any organized sports or recreational activities that are hosted/operated.
The NYSPHSAA Task Force reviewed six potential return to school scenarios, including a full return to school, a hybrid education model, a full virtual learning model and regional differences model.
In a document detailing the potential scenarios, the following points were stated:
• In a recent survey conducted by NYSPHSAA of nearly 6,000 superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches, fan attendance rated very low in areas of importance; safety of students rated the highest. Fan attendance at games and contests will be dictated by social distancing restrictions, local and state health department declarations.
• High risk sports include close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Examples: wrestling, football, boys lacrosse and competitive cheer.
• Moderate risk: Basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics (if equipment can't be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high jump, long jump and girls lacrosse. Some of these risks could be mitigated by cleaning during an event.
• Low risk: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, alpine skiing, sideline cheer and cross country running (with staggered starts).
• These risk levels could be used to help evaluate what sports would be played in what season. For example, low risk activities could be shifted to the fall with higher risk occurring later in the school year. There are also condensed season options that could begin in January of 2021. A regional approach could have different sections playing different sports in the same season and if that was the case, no state championships would be contested.
The meeting concluded with a presentation of the EzSCRN Application from Paul Bailey, President of Total Concussion Management. The EzSCRN Application, which provides an online tool for schools to utilize if screening is part of their reopening plan, would allow a school or team to easily screen students and immediately notify school administrators and health care officials of any students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The Task Force plans to continue the discussion about this application at their next meeting which has not been announced yet.