The future of the fall high school sports season is back up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given the green light for “low-risk” sports to get back in the action as of Monday, Sept. 21, the New York State Council of Superintendents is asking him to reconsider a potential postponement of the fall season.
In a letter to Cuomo sent on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the organization urged Cuomo to reconsider allowing fall sports while acknowledging that “the closing of schools due to the pandemic has led to missed academic and social opportunities for all students.”
"Since schools closed in March, superintendents have been laser-focused on how to get their students back in the classroom this fall,” they wrote. “Superintendents have put their plans out to the public and the vast majority are set for some level of in-person learning starting in a couple of weeks.
“Authorizing school athletics could jeopardize the successful resumption of in-person learning for students.”
- Earlier story - COVID-19: 'Lower Risk' NY HS Sports Can Practice, Play Within Region Only, Cuomo Announces
In the letter, the council compared students being forced to stay 12 feet apart during gym class to returning to the field for fall sports.
“We have struggled to reconcile why students in physical education classes must be 12 feet apart per reopening guidance, yet contact athletics and other activities that have regularly bring athletes into close proximity are deemed safe at this time,” they said.
“Additionally, the logistical challenges of school athletics during the pandemic and the initial re-opening of school such as locker rooms, spectators, personnel, remote learners and other issues are too significant to undertake at this time without detracting from the primary goal of bringing students back to school safely.”
- Related story - COVID-19: Suffolk County Will Try To Play Fall HS Sports After Nassau Postpones Til 2021
According to the council, during this “uncertain time,” they are looking to defer an activity that could endanger students or staff members, or help spread COVID-19 in New York.
“Students need to be in school, with their friends and teachers as soon as possible,” the letter said. “School leaders need to be focused on this effort and not have their attention diverted to extracurricular activities at this moment.”
The Council said it’s not calling for the end of athletics for the year, but is requesting that they be put on hold through at least the end of the year as a precaution.
"We are not currently calling for canceling all athletics for the school year," the Council said. "We would request a delay in school athletics until Jan. 1.
“As we approach the new year, we should collaborate with all stakeholders to develop and agree on a plan to consolidate all three athletic seasons into the second semester so that student-athletes have an equitable opportunity to participate in the sport of their choice."
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