Spring sports have the green light.
County executives from the seven counties of Hudson Valley announced the Feb. 1 authorization, though participation is left up to the sole discretion of school districts and athletic organizations.
“Our region agrees that sports provide many positive impacts for a student’s social, physical, and emotional wellbeing and should be authorized whenever possible,” read a bulletin sent by Dutchess County in late January. “However, COVID-19 transmission rates around the state and throughout the Hudson Valley region demonstrate the critical nature of proper safety precautions to limit the continued spread of the virus in our communities.”
Schools are responsible for observing relevant safety protocols, as well as providing risk information and obtaining consent for participation. Surveillance testing programs may also be considered, but are not required.
“Following an extensive review of New York State’s guidelines and our local COVID-19 data, Dutchess County’s Department of Behavioral Health and I support the resumption of ‘higher-risk’ youth sports – both school-sanctioned and non-scholastic – provided all involved take the necessary precautions,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. “This decision was not reached lightly and came about only after proper deliberation; but we as a county – and as a region – want our children to have the opportunity to play, and we will continue to be vigilant for the sake of all involved.
Hyde Park Central School District opted out of the 2021 wrestling season — as did most of its competitors — but chose to offer both junior varsity and varsity boys and girls basketball beginning Feb. 1. Junior varsity and varsity cheerleading is also being offered.
“We will be requiring athletes to wear masks at all times for practices and games,” said Thomas Cunningham, Hyde Park CSD’s Director of Health, PE and Athletics. “Cleaning of equipment and having athletes use hand sanitizer as often as they can will be a big part of our routine for athletics. The coaches have all been trained in the protocols and all have taken a COVID-19 course from the National Federation of High Schools.
“Spectators will not be allowed for any games as well and each visiting team and official is to complete a health screening form similar to what we ask our students to complete when attending school in person.”
Red Hook Central School District kicked off wrestling and basketball seasons in early February.
The district also plans to offer its previously canceled fall season beginning March 1: football, field hockey, girls and boys soccer, cross country and girl’s tennis at the high school level.
“All athletic activities will be conducted with the athletes wearing masks at all times, and practicing social distancing where practical during daily activities,” said Red Hook CSD Superintendent Janet Warden. “We will follow all state and local Department of Health regulations regarding these athletic activities.”
The traditional spring sports schedule is set to begin April 19 in Red Hook. Offerings include girls and boys lacrosse, boys tennis, boys and girls golf, baseball, softball and outdoor track and field (at the high school level.)
“We have mechanisms in place to perform contact tracing, like our schools, with our athletic programs if any exposures or positive cases arise,” Warden said. “Our plans include regulations for limited or no spectators at athletic events as recommended by the State and local Department of Health.”