The New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s COVID-19 Task Force is in the process of formulating contingency plans for an uncertain future.
Those plans concerning the fall sports season were among the topics of discussion at the Task Force’s second virtual meeting Tuesday.
“How are we going to conduct an athletic season is to be determined,” said NYSPHSAA president and Task Force member Robert Zayas during a conference call with reporters. “First and foremost, the safety of our student-athletes is the No. 1 concern.”
The Task Force has been putting together possible methods that might be used to conduct a fall sports season, dependent on how schools are instructing their students.
“Everything is on the table,” Zayas said.
The Task Force reviewed six potential return-to-school scenarios, including a full return to school, a hybrid education model, a full virtual-learning model and regional differences model. Proposals to address the scenarios reviewed included a full return to athletic participation, potential adjustments to the season, and/or condensing the season.
“We are trying to put together contingency plans. There are a number of things we are considering,” Zayas said. “What we don’t know is what next week will hold, let alone the next few months.”
The Task Force is finalizing the proposals and plans to release the document to the NYSPHSAA membership by the end of the week in an effort to gather feedback. At present, the fall sports season is scheduled to begin Aug. 24.
“So much is contingent on the governor’s office and the state education department,” Zayas said. “We have to see what guidance they give us.”
Zayas said he was looking to get guidance from the state education department by mid-July.
“My goal, at the very minimum, is to give student-athletes an opportunity to participate in their sport,” he said.
According to a NYSPHSAA press release, representatives from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department provided updates pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis. The Task Force also discussed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan and its impact upon interscholastic athletics.
The press release added that the meeting concluded with a presentation of the EzSCRN Application from Paul Bailey, president of Total Concussion Management. The EzSCRN Application, which provides an online tool for schools to utilize if screening is part of their reopening plan, would allow a school or team to screen students and immediately notify school administrators and health care officials of any students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The Task Force plans to continue discussion about this application at its next meeting.
Zayas said a date for the next Task Force meeting is expected to take place in mid-to-late July.