Section 1 announced it will delay sports until Sept. 29
Citing the need to focus on reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, Section 1 athletics announced Thursday it would delay the start of the fall sports season until Sept. 29.
No workouts or practices will be permitted at any Section 1 school prior to that date and a district can choose to delay its season beyond that based on its individual needs.
“As always, the Section has made the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, and communities its top priority,” executive director Todd Santabarbara said in a statement released after Section 1’s Executive Committee met Thursday morning. “Today’s decisions by the Executive Committee represents a balance between supporting schools as they reopen amid this complex and unprecedented time, while also providing for the safe return for our student-athletes to interscholastic competition.”
The start of the fall season had originally been scheduled to begin with preseason practice on Aug. 24, but it was delayed four weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month that sports deemed low-risk and moderate-risk by the state Department of Health could begin practice Sept. 21 and would be allowed to compete in interscholastic events this fall. Most of those sports — cross-country, field hockey, soccer and girls tennis — will now be allowed to start Sept. 29 in Section 1.
However, Cuomo’s announcement also said high-risk sports — football, volleyball and competitive cheer in the fall — could hold limited workouts but not compete until further advisement from the governor’s office. Section 1 said it will review those sports’ ability to practice after guidance is released by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, which is expected Friday, and based on any further information from state officials.
The release suggested the seasons for those sports could be postponed until later this year when it might be more feasible to play.
“Should a decision regarding competitions for high risk sports (volleyball, football, and competitive cheer) not be announced by state officials, Section One will consider moving to a condensed season model to afford the ability for those high risk sports to have competitions,” the release said.
Swimming, which has the Department of Health has categorized as low or moderate-risk, will continue to be reevaluated by the section. Section 1 said it may consider postponing girls swimming to another season, but will first gather data about the availability of facilities.
Section 1’s decisions Thursday came on the strength of data collected by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents and the planning efforts of the section’s COVID Task Force and Athletic Council, the release said.
In Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess counties, which house Section 1’s member schools, several school districts have opted for either remote-only learning or a hybrid learning model. Several athletic administrators have said that would give local school districts an additional challenge if they attempted to hold practices or games on days students were not in school.
However, Santabarbara said beginning athletics at some point is a priority of the section.
“The Section continues to be guided by a belief in the value that interscholastic sports participation contributes to student-athletes’ feelings of belonging and overall social-emotional well-being,” he said.
The Executive Committee will meet prior to Sept. 29 to examine data and guidance from the NYSPHSAA and state to plan the next step for Section 1, but no date was given for when that would occur.
Josh Thomson is the Local Sports Editor for The Journal News and Poughkeepsie Journal. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @lohudinsider, and on Instagram at @lohudinsider.
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