SCHENECTADY – Schenectady County “high” risk high school sports are within a tenth of 1% of the seven-day average of the coronavirus positivity rate of 4% that’s needed to be able to get their seasons underway with full-contact practices.
On Sunday, Schenectady County and Warren County were at 4.1%. Also close to that 4% threshold, which many area counties are using to determine if “high” risk sports – basketball, ice hockey and wrestling – are able to start as soon as Monday, was Schoharie County at 4.3% according to the state’s testing website.
Once at or below 4%, “high” risk sports can participate in full-contact practices beginning Monday under the standard set by their respective Departments of Public Health last week.
Schools in Albany, Saratoga, Warren, Fulton and Schoharie counties, all currently above the 4% benchmark, must limit “high” risk sports to non- or low-contact practices under the issued guidelines. Rensselaer and Montgomery counties created separate guidelines for their school districts allowing for full-contact practices to begin Monday without restrictions related to the the county coronavirus positivity rate.
“The county is excited for youth sports and getting it started,” Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman said. “We want to extend every piece of assistance to our school districts that we can. We understand that individual school districts may decide to do their own thing, but we’re here for the kids and their health.”
The 4% criteria is familiar to Fluman.
“When we were in the micro-cluster strategy, that 4% was also a really important number as to whether we were going to close businesses down and start restricting social gathering,” he said. “Even though the governor never designated [Schenectady County] a yellow, orange, or red zone, that 4% number was particularly important.
A seven-day average of the coronavirus positivity of 4% or higher was a marker to designate an area as an orange zone under the plan.
Along with the seven-day average of the coronavirus positivity rate marker, each school district must have programs in place, such as a sport-specific preparedness plan, for the “high” risk sports to begin for the first time this winter.
Fluman did not expect any fluctuations soon around the 4% criteria to impact “high” risk sports.
“It is a seven-day rolling average, so there is some protection against quick swings,” Fluman said. “When you look at where we are with this virus as far as the statistical lines are, we are obviously on the downward slide of a spike.”
Saratoga County has a seven-day average of the coronavirus positivity rate of 4.5%, while Fulton County is at 8%.
Montgomery County is at 8.2% and Rensselaer County is at 5%.