The officers of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) voted Thursday to delay the official start date of the Fall 2020 sports season, cancel the Fall 2020 Regional and State Championships and prepare to implement a condensed season schedule in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited throughout 2020 due to COVID-19.
This decision comes at the recommendation of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force.
“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled,” said NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”
The NYSPHSAA officers’ decision includes:
- Delay fall sports start date until Monday, Sept. 21
- Cancel fall regional and state championship events
- Waive seven-day practice rule
- Maintain current practice requirements
- Encourage geographic scheduling for games & contests
- Schools would have the option, if permitted by state officials, to offer off-season conditioning workouts.
“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the state level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” said NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zaya. “At this time, Department of Health guidance presented on July 13 prohibits interscholastic athletics across the state. The association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with State officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future. As an association, we must be willing to be flexible and continue to explore all options with students’ safety as our main focus.”
With regional differences, schools and areas will be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the NYSPHSAA officers and authorization from state officials, if the fall sports seasons are interrupted or impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, then a condensed seasons plan will be implemented.
The condensed season plan would entail the following. The stipulated dates are tentative.
Season I (Winter Sports)
Dates: Jan. 4 to Mar. 13 (Weeks 27-36) Sports: basketball (girls/boys), bowling (girls/boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls/boys), indoor track and field (girls/boys), skiing (girls/boys), swimming (boys), *wrestling, *competitive cheer. (Because of the high-risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, sports may have to be moved to Season II or season III.
Season II (Fall Sports)
Dates: Mar. 1 to May 8 (Weeks 35-44) Sports: football, cross country (girls/boys), field hockey, soccer (girls/boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls/boys), Unified bowling.
Note: Weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April. Girls tennis moved to Season III.
Season III (Spring Sports)
Dates: Apr. 5 to June 12 (Week 40-49) Sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls/boys), lacrosse (girls/boys), tennis (girls/boys), outdoor track and field (girls/boys), unified basketball.
The NYSPHSAA officers have the ability to adjust seasons with the authority granted within the NYSPHSAA Constitution
In an effort to assist schools in complying with recently released state Department of Health guidance, the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force is supportive of the use of the ezSCRN application. The ezSCRN application provides a unique online tool for schools to utilize if screening is part of their reopening plan as it complies with New York state and national restrictions and guidelines. The EzScrn application allows a school or team to easily screen, trace and track students and staff and immediately notify school administrators and health care officials if anyone exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.
A full report will be released soon. The next meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force has not been determined.