BETHLEHEM — While the state and Section II did give school districts the OK to play soccer and field hockey this year, they will not be played here.
Instead, the Bethlehem Central School District will allow only “low risk” sports to commence this fall including varsity cross country, golf, tennis and swimming and diving. Soccer and field hockey are considered sports that presents a “moderate risk” of spreading COVID-19 among the participants.
There will not be any junior varsity or modified programs playing in Bethlehem this fall.
“The decision to focus on low-risk play was made with the health and safety of students, staff and the entire Bethlehem school community as our primary considerations,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe in a statement. “We weighed the risks and benefits, reviewed the official guidance, talked to our district physician and determined that this is the most reasonable way to provide opportunities for our student-athletes without jeopardizing the work we are doing to ensure the safe return of teaching and learning to our classrooms.”
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the unilateral decision to postpone football, competitive cheerleading and volleyball until the March 2021.
While the state did allow low and moderate sports to commence this fall, it was not a mandate and it gave the districts the option to play or not to play.
Monroe said the district’s decision to only have varsity sports stems from its reopening plan that does not include late buses for any student activities including athletics.
Spectators for cross country, golf and tennis will be limited to two per player. Swim meets will be held virtually at the high school pool with no visiting teams and no spectators. Team sizes and the number of competitors for each event will be limited to meet social distancing requirements set by NYSPHSAA.
“So many people — students, staff and parents — have put their faith in us to minimize the risk of a return to school,” said Monroe. “A return to low-risk activities is where we are right now. We look forward to being able to make choices for our students down the road without the added weight of our current public health concerns.”
The Bethlehem girls soccer team won the Section II, Class AA title two years in a row.