Schenectady County’s seven-day rolling average of its coronavirus positivity rate fell below 4% Monday, clearing the way for the county’s high schools to start full-contact practices, and eventually competition, for “high” risk winter sports.
Those sports include basketball, ice hockey and wrestling. Schenectady County was one of several counties within the greater Capital Region to set a guideline that a county’s rate needed to be at 4% or lower to allow for “high” risk sports to fully begin their seasons. Other measures, such as school approval, is required for those sports to begin.
On Monday afternoon, the state website listed Schenectady County at 3.9%. Warren and Schoharie counties, which were both close to the mark on Sunday’s dashboard, were at 4.2%. Saratoga County decreased again to 4.4%.
The Schenectady High School boys’ basketball team is planning its first official practice for Thursday.
“We knew we weren’t going today or tomorrow,” Schenectady athletic director Steve Boynton said Monday. “The way it’s been dropping from 4.5% to 4.1%, we had an assumption that we would start Thursday to kick-off, get our six practices in and we should start playing by February 12.”
Once Schenectady County was at or below the 4% mark, each practice will count toward the minimum of six required before a team can participate in a scrimmage or game.
“We started doing paperwork last week in the assumption that we would get the green light this week,” Boynton said.
Schenectady boys’ basketball coach John Miller was quietly confident about the county’s coronavirus positivity rate decreasing.
“We felt like this was coming. We knew we were close, but we were still being patient with it and not getting overly excited just because we didn’t want to jinx it,” Miller said.
The winter basketball season typically begins in November.
“We’ve been meeting with them on Google Meet and going over things, staying connected the best we can,” Miller said. “Now, at the end of the week, we can officially play some ball.”
The Schenectady Board of Education will meet Wednesday, to approve “high” risk sports to resume while the Schalmont administration gave its approval last week.
“We’ve been doing an open gym for the past couple months, and the coaches and kids are pretty well-versed in what they had to do with all the guidelines,” Schalmont athletic director Matt Ronca said. “Its going to be an easy transition to start.”
Ronca hopes to see practice start Tuesday, but the snowstorm may cancel that.
The work is not done for the coaches, athletes are administration as the seven-day rolling average coronavirus positivity rate for the county must remain at 4% or below for “high” risk sports to continue.
“We still have to approach this thing really smart, safe and make sure we take care of each other and our families,” Miller said. “We don’t want to get too excited and kind of get away from what has been working so far to stay safe.”
Within the greater Capital Region, the only counties that “high” risk sports teams were allowed to start full-contact practices in were Montgomery and Rensselaer.