LATHAM, N.Y. - The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) held the second meeting of its COVID-19 Task Force, Tuesday.
The 24-member group was briefed on the latest regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the state by representatives of the New York State Health Department and New York State Education Department (NYSED). The Task Force then discussed Governor Andrew Cuomo's reopening plan and its impact upon interscholastic athletics.
According to Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director, it remains that no on-campus activity can be held through the school until given authorization by Governor Cuomo. This includes summer workouts and conditioning exercises either inside or outside on school grounds.
The Task Force has reviewed six potential return to school scenarios and established their own coinciding scenarios to return to athletic activity.
The scenarios being discussed are as follows:
1) Schools open for in-person learning; includes athletic participation.
2) Schools open with hybrid education (combination of in-person & virtual learning); includes
3) Schools only provide distance learning (virtual education); includes athletic participation.
4) Schools open with hybrid education (combination of in-person & virtual learning); does NOT
include athletic participation at start of school year.
5) Schools only provide distance learning; does NOT include athletic participation at start of
6) Regional differences in start dates & learning platforms.
Dr. Zayas, in a Zoom conference call with media following the meeting, said that "everything is on the table," and that sports could be played out of traditional season to remain flexible with whatever the landscape of the pandemic may be at the time.
"It is my intention that no student have to be told what the spring sports athletes were told at the beginning of March," Zayas said. "It is my commitment to the association and to all student-athletes and their parents that we are doing everything we can in this point in time to ensure that every student gets the season they want in the upcoming school year."
He added that it is uncertain exactly what seasons may look like, what length they will be, or whether or not championships will be played, but that the goal is to give students some form of ability to participate in their interscholastic sport in the upcoming academic year.
Zayas did also say that it is possible that NYSPHSAA could hold "low risk" sports only this fall with "moderate to high risk" sports taking place later in the school year, but that scenario is very preliminary at the moment.
The NYSPHSAA will await further guidance from the Board of Regents and NYSED to direct on the best possible way to proceed. Those organizations are expected to meet and release further guidance on or after July 13.
Zayas is hoping to have at least six weeks to prepare for a fall season once it is deemed safe to return to athletic activity. Currently, the fall sports season is slated to begin on August 24.
The next meeting for the COVID-19 Task Force is still to be determined, but the Task Force plans to discuss coronavirus testing and screening for student-athletes when it does meet again.