Since Section X’s announcement last week, school districts have received more information and guidance from local departments of health and made significant progress on planning for a safe winter sports season.
The graphic below indicates the timeline of events thus far as well as the actions that must be taken prior to beginning any practices, training, or competitions, per New York State DOH and local DOH guidance.
Districts are working with their athletic directors, school medical personnel, and other staff to complete the requisite safety plans, which must be submitted to the local DOH, and approved by the school medical director, and board of education. The details of those plans are expected to be shared as early as next week. The final plans will be posted on each district’s website.
Because Section X is comprised of school districts in both St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, there are two separate sets of guidance that must be evaluated. Franklin County guidance stipulates that high-risk athletics may not commence unless the county is below a 4% COVID-19 positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average, and hospital capacity is at 15% or more. Currently, Franklin County is at a 6.8% positivity rate; St. Lawrence County’s positivity rate is currently at 4.5%.
Furthermore, according to NYSDOH guidance, “If school is closed for in-person education during the school year due to an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, school-sponsored sports must be suspended until in-person education is resumed.”
If all of the aforementioned conditions are met, school districts in Section X could begin practices for varsity hockey and varsity and junior varsity basketball as early as mid-February. Wrestling and competitive cheerleading are traditionally offered in the winter season, but have been moved to the Fall II season as we gradually and purposefully transition to a safe return to interscholastic athletics.
The Fall II season is also slated to offer girls’ swimming, volleyball, and football. The specific start date and season end dates are still being determined, and will be based in part on the success of the winter season.
The athletic directors and Section X office will work on final sport schedules after each district completes the steps outlined in the graphic below.