NISKAYUNA – Student athletes in the Niskayuna Central School District will be required to get the COVID vaccine in order to participate in high risk sports, the district has announced.
“As of today, the level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Schenectady County is high,” states a follow-up letter from the school district to parents sent Friday afternoon. “In areas where the level of community transmission is high, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends cancelling high-risk sports unless all participants are vaccinated. The high-risk sports that we are offering this fall are football and volleyball. Based on this guidance from the CDC, students who wish to participate in these two sports must be vaccinated, or in the process of becoming vaccinated, at this time.”
The announcement comes as fall sport practices and try-outs begin Monday.
Other high-risk sports include wrestling, basketball, lacrosse, rugby and bowling. The district said the new rule will be in effect Monday, meaning if a student cannot show their coach they are vaccinated or have had at least one dose they will not be allowed to play.
This year the district will have four sections of girls volleyball – varsity, junior varsity, freshman and modified. It will have three sections of boys volleyball and football – varsity, junior varsity and modified.
The district said the measure is necessary to keep students and staff safe.
Other guidelines that will be implemented include masks at all times except when students are socially distanced 3 feet or more apart and testing for all interscholastic sports.
Niskayuna is the latest district in the Capital Region to announce such a mandate for student athletes. The City School District of Albany and Bethlehem Central School District have already announced they will require athletes playing in high-risk sports to be vaccinated and New York City’s public schools announced Friday it is mandating vaccinations for both athletes and coaches participating in high-risk sports.
Other school districts in the region have said they will test students and are recommending the vaccine, but have not mandated it.
Student athletes in the Shenendehowa Central School District will not be required to get vaccinated, said Lindsey Valenti, the district’s public information officer.
“That’s not to say things can’t change,” she said.
However, so long as the district remains in an area where the risk for transmission is high or substantial it will do weekly testings for high-risk sports.
The Schenectady City School District is encouraging students to get vaccinated, even holding a clinic Monday.
“We are watching closely to see any updates or mandates with the transition in state leadership,” said Karen Corona, the district director for communication and public information. “We will be prepared to act and follow any directives that may be issued.”
Gloversville schools Superintendent David Halloran said the district will only be testing unvaccinated students participating in high risk sports.
The Mohonasen School District is moving forward with practices Monday without any student athlete vaccine requirement. Superintendent Shannon Shine said he’s not even sure he’d have the legal authority to make such a decision.
“It is certainly recommended though as it will help players not be quarantined in the event of a COVID positive situation,” Shine said.
Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she will work with the state Department of Health on mandating masks in schools and will continue discussions surrounding vaccines.
“Regarding vaccines, she is continuing to discuss itwith the Department of Health and will have more to say when she is officially governor,” said Haley Viccaro, a spokesperson for Hochul in an email Friday. “Also want to note that local school districts do have the authority and ability to require vaccines and masks currently.”
Some parents in the Niskayuna school district were not happy to hear about the new measure during a virtual presentation and question-and-answer series with the school district Thursday evening.
“My children’s pediatrician also does not recommend vaccines for them,” said a woman who only provided the first name of Amy in the chat box. “As much as I like NCSD, I trust her opinion about my student athletes more than a nameless bureaucrat.”
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for emergency use for people 12 years of age and older. Moderna and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is available to those who are 18 or older.
Schenectady County Vaccine Clinic this weekend:
- 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hon. Karen B. Johnson Library, 99 Clinton St., Schenectady
- All three vaccines are available.
Vaccine clinic for Schenectady City School District students:
- 10 a.m. to noon, Monday at Schenectady High School, 1445 The Plaza, Schenectady
- Students should fill out the consent form at https://schenectadycounty.com/sites/default/files/Public-Health/VaccineConsentForm.pdf
To find other sites offering vaccines visit: https://www.vaccines.gov/search.