Now that Albany County gave the green light for so called “high risk” sports, the school districts are taking the necessary steps allowing the kids to play a condensed winter athletic season.
The North Colonie Board of Education voted 8-1 to approve “high-risk” winter sports and the Fall II season at a special meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
Bethlehem High is holding tryouts for basketball, hockey and competitive cheerleading on Wednesday, Feb. 10.
The Boards of Education at South Colonie, Voorheesville and Guilderland are set to meet tonight and are expected to approve sports with a variation of the stipulations set down by County Executive Dan McCoy and Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department.
At Shaker, athletes, coaches, scorekeepers, managers and the media must attest before every practice and game and attendance will be kept to assist with contact tracing.
Masks will be worn by everyone at all time, said Athletic Director Matthew Stein during a presentation to the board. Athletes are required to properly wear masks — over the nose — during competitions. During “mask breaks,” a new time out for both teams, athletes must keep 12-foot apart.
Spectators are not allowed for winter sports, except for senior night, when each athlete can have two spectators. That could change depending on the infection rate and if it continues to decline.
There are not any state or regional competitions this winter and the winter season cannot last past March 13, when Fall II season will begin including football and some soccer programs that did not play last fall. Fall II will run until May 1, and the spring season, including lacrosse, baseball and softball, will run from May 2 to June 25.
Parents or guardians must sign off on allowing the students to compete and the student athletes must get a physical.
The individual teams will practice separately and practice in their own spaces to eliminate or reduce comingling between the different teams. All equipment will be disinfected between practices and during games when possible, coaches will use electronic whistles, athletes will bring their own water, PPE will be provided but it is recommended athletes get a mask designed to wear while competing.
Each district will have to have a confidential phone number and/or email address to allow students and/or parents to report any concerns.
“On a daily basis we will encompass all the protocols and safety procedures into our programs,” said Shaker Athletic Director Matthew Stein during a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, Feb. 8.
Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the sports could begin but then punted and left the final decision to the county health departments. McCoy and Whalen said sports could not begin until the rolling positivity rate was below 4 percent. That decision prompted a protest of students and coaches outside the Albany County office building but it did not change any minds.
“It was based on science and not emotion. It is based on science and not on votes. I’m not here to make everyone happy,” McCoy said on Monday. “As of today, following the science, scrimmage and games can start if the schools have submitted what they are supposed to submit to us.”