The Hudson Valley region has reviewed the updated “Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” dated Jan. 22, published by New York State.
Following discussion with the New York State Association of County Health Officials, regional county executives, and area public health officials, the Hudson Valley region will authorize “Higher-Risk” sports — both scholastic and non-scholastic — to proceed, effective Monday, Feb. 1, at the sole discretion of the governing school district or non-scholastic athletic organization.
These activities include but are not limited to football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, and competitive cheer/dance.
County health departments in the region will also monitor whether there has been a more-transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area, as well as the percent of local residents that test positive.
In a joint statement, the county executives said the region agrees that sports provide many positive impacts for a student’s social, physical and emotional well-being and should be authorized whenever possible. 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.
How to proceed
The following must be taken into consideration as school districts and athletic organizations in the Hudson Valley region make their individual determinations on how to proceed:
· School districts and non-scholastic organizations that will be organizing sporting activities are responsible for oversight and compliance with all published state guidance, including relevant safety protocols. All requirements outlined in the Jan 22 update to the Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation must be followed by sports teams, recreation activities and facilities where games and practices are held. League staff, school athletic directors, sports facility directors, coaches and parents are strongly encouraged to review this guidance and take steps to make sure current team and league operations align with this updated guidance.
· Parents, coaches and athletes should be fully informed and affirmatively consent to the participate in these activities understanding the risk of disease transmission.
· Surveillance testing programs may be considered, but are not required as a means to minimize the spread of disease within these activities.
‘Families (must) make their own educated decisions’
“Many people have contacted my office in support of playing sports,” Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said. “It is important that this be approached as a region, but that families make their own educated decisions based on their student athlete and other household members.”
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said: “It is up to each school district to decide whether to allow their students to participate in high risk sports. The health and safety of students, staff and the local community during this pandemic must be each district’s first priority. What works in one district does not necessarily work in another.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said: “As a coach of my son’s youth soccer team, I see first-hand the benefits participating in athletics provide all children who partake in them, and they can do wonders for kids who have been so greatly impacted by this pandemic.”
Dr. Carol Smith, Ulster County Commissioner of Health, added: “We are committed to working with our schools, parents and student-athletes to ensure all school sports are conducted as safely as possible.”