While the spring high school sports season has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may not happen at all, Section II athletic leaders are continuing to make preparations in case there is a season.
Section II executive director Ed Dopp said Tuesday that his committee and area high school league presidents will be meeting next week via conference call to begin creating contingency plans that would enable student-athletes to compete should they eventually get the OK that’s appropriate to do so from higher authorities. At that meeting, Dopp said it’s “without question” that it will also be discussed as to whether Section II should further postpone all its contests; on March 13, Dopp directed all Section II schools that games and scrimmages were postponed until at least April 19.
"The bottom line is, if we have the opportunity for the kids to play, whether it's 10, 12, 15 games — it could be three — we want to give them that opportunity," Dopp said. "If we get that opportunity, we will have a plan in place to play interscholastic athletics."
The spring sports season has been in a holding pattern for several weeks, with the closing of schools and need for social-distancing protocols in an effort to combat the spreading novel coronavirus.
"Our position in Section II is we understand the perspective of what's going on in the world, and we want to do our part, but we live in a world of interscholastic athletics and to many of us this is our livelihood. This is what we do," Dopp said. "Our hope is when we are allowed to, we want to have interscholastic competition for our student-athletes. Until we are told there is no option, we're holding out hope."
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is expected to announce no later than April 27 whether it believes holding spring state championship events would be feasible. Last week, the NYSPHSAA canceled the remaining state winter sports championships that included boys' and girls' basketball, ice hockey and bowling.
Some schools, Dopp said, had already decided not to send their student-athletes to those state events before that announcement to cancel was made.
"NYSPHSAA established the date of April 27 when they hope to make a decision whether or not to hold [spring] state championships this year. That will impact all 11 sections," Dopp said. "If NYSPHSAA decides there will be state championships, each section has to determine if they are or are not going to participate. If they don't participate, will they extend their own sectional playoffs? Right now, there's more questions than answers."
All schools in New York state remain closed at least through April 15 as the result of a decision made by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week.
"I'm sure we'll hear soon whether that will be extended or remain," Dopp said. "In addition, the president has just extended CDC guidelines, which include social distancing, to the end of April. We're trying to plan for the unknown. We're in uncharted waters. I just hope we get to play whether it's a short regular season or some kind of playoffs."
Emma Willard Head of School Jenny Rao announced March 21 that the private institution in Troy would be completing its academic schedule online and that normal campus activities, including all athletic functions, would not resume this spring.
"The priorities at this point are slowing the spread of this virus and getting back to school and work as soon as we are allowed to," Dopp said. "At that point we hope that the return to athletic competition can be a source of relief and a return to normalcy as best we can."