Latham, NY – The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) COVID-19 Task Force met on Monday, August 31st for the fifth time and examined New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidance which provided recommendations for the fall interscholastic athletic season. The COVID-19 Task Force is developing a comprehensive document with guidance for member schools to utilize as they prepare for the return of interscholastic athletics this fall. The anticipated release date of the return to interscholastic athletics document is Friday, September 4th.
The NYSPHSAA officers voted today to delay the start of the winter sports season from November 16th to November 30th to give schools and sections more time to complete the fall athletic season. The officers also voted to approve revising the number of required practices for fall sport student-athletes (12 practices for football and 10 for all other fall sports). The NYSPHSAA officers decision also includes waiving the seven consecutive day rule starting on October 12th, continuing to consider the high-risk sports of football and volleyball as fall sports, and restricting games for low and moderate risk sports to compete within their league and/or section until October 19th.
“I am encouraged by the work of our association and state officials to provide the opportunity for schools to offer interscholastic athletics for students this fall,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “Unfortunately all sports will look different and participation will not be the same as it was a year ago, but students will have the chance to represent their school, be around their friends and coaches, and experience a sense of normalcy this fall. It is critical that student-athletes be leaders in their schools and communities and strictly abide by COVID-19 safety protocols.”
“As the fall sports season starts on September 21st, we felt it was most appropriate to delay the start of the winter sports season by two weeks to afford sections and schools additional time to play the fall sports seasons before the winter seasons began,” said Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA President and Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, “The Task Force and officers spent a great deal of time discussing these topics to determine what is best for schools and student-athletes.”
With regional differences, schools and areas will continue to be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the NYSPHSAA officers, if the fall sports seasons are interrupted or impacted by the COVID-19 crisis (i.e. state official guidance, school closings, etc.), then a condensed seasons plan could still be implemented. That decision will be made by the NYSPHSAA officers with the information available at that time.
On July 13th guidance from NYSDOH prohibited any interscholastic athletics until further notice. On August 24th, Governor Andrew Cuomo provided authorization for fall sports to begin on September 21st. Governor Cuomo will permit low and moderate risk sports to have competitions this fall, while high risk fall sports will be prohibited from having any games or contests until authorization is granted from New York State officials on or before December 31st. As per the NYSPHSAA officers decision today, low and moderate risk sports will be restricted to playing games in their own league and/or section until October 19th.