ALBANY, N.Y. – High-risk high school sports can resume starting Feb. 1, according to guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health, Friday.
If county health departments also approve, sports like basketball, wrestling, hockey and volleyball can resume socially distanced practices as well as games and tournaments.
This would also apply to high-risk sports beyond winter, such as football, which is intended to be played in March, and lacrosse in the spring.
“We are extremely thankful to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health for providing authorization for all sports to begin,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director. “I am thrilled our association’s member schools will be able to provide over two hundred thousand students with valuable and beneficial participation experiences. Today is certainly a great day for the students of New York State.”
In November, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association postponed the start of high-risk winter sports into the new year. Lower risk sports, like bowling and indoor track, were allowed to start on Nov. 30, but locally have been held until schools began to return for in-person learning.
The guidance does advise county health departments to consider the local COVID rates, and assess the ability to enforce new safety guidelines, before allowing sports to resume.
Currently, the Mohawk Valley region is the second highest in the state with a positivity rate of 7.1% over the past seven days.
Oneida County officials say they have not yet assessed the feasibility of a return to play for high-risk high school sports, with the announcement having just been made earlier in the day on Friday.
Similarly, Herkimer County is not yet ready to commit to allowing sports to proceed indicating the first priority is to distribute vaccines.
County officials also indicated initial concerns with non-vaccinated student-athletes transmitting the virus during competition.
The NYSPHSAA said it will release its own updated Return to Interscholastic Athletics recource document for winter and Fall II sports seasons on January 25.
Stay with NEWSChannel 2 for updates.