CANTON — As the Sept. 21 start date for low- and moderate-risk fall sports draws near, the high school sports picture is getting clearer in the state of New York.

On Sept. 15, Section 10 announced the go-ahead for low- and moderate-risk sports to begin practice on Sept. 21. This was in contrast to Section 4’s announcement the same day that it was pushing all fall sports to the spring.

When the New York State Public High School Athletic Association released its original guidelines for the return to interscholastic athletics on Sept. 5, it didn’t give school districts much time to plan out the fall sports season.

“We were really handcuffed, like a number of sections were across the state,” Section 10 Executive Director Carl Normandin said. “We received the governor’s guidance late, I think it was maybe two Thursdays ago at about six o’clock and there was really a lot of information that needed to be included for us to safely and successfully execute any type of a fall season, so the state COVID task force and our local task force kind of took it upon ourselves to kind of expand upon the governor’s regulations along with the Department of Health to go on a sport-by-sport basis to look at what would be feasible and what would be safe and appropriate to be able to offer moving forward in the fall sports season.”

Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, guidelines for high-risk sports have not been given at this time. This resulted in the NYSPHSAA’s updated guidelines and subsequent push of high-risk sports to the spring.

Normandin, while still waiting on guidelines for high-risk sports like the rest of the sections, focused on the immediate low- and moderate-risk sports that were given guidance.

“We still haven’t really received anything with regards to high-risk sports, so the sports – like I said for football, volleyball, sideline cheer, boys lacrosse, ice hockey, basketball and wrestling – we’re still kind of in a waiting pattern for those,” Normandin said. “I’m not sure when the governor plans on releasing that information. I think right now his emphasis is just trying to be able to successfully pull off a fall sports season, so I’m guessing we’re looking at a month or a month plus to receive that guidance on high-risk sports.”

High-risk sports, running March 1 through April 18, will certainly be given updated regulations and procedures by the NYSPHSAA as the window for the Fall Sports II season draws near.

But without them present by the start of the school year, it was difficult for Section 10 to make decisions around them.

“Without the guidance, we really couldn’t provide much information to our component districts and I think that was a fair and legitimate move to do that (pushing high-risk sports to the spring) versus basically having a practice move for a period of time in the fall with no guarantee of games or meets,” Normandin said.

Although there won’t be any state championships this year, it’s up to the individual sections as to whether or not they will host sectional playoffs. Sections 2 and 3, which will be moving forward with low- and moderate-risk fall sports on Sept. 21, announced there won’t be sectional tournaments.

Section 10 has had few conversations about sectionals and focused its attention on making sure fall sports would be up and running. There are many factors that play into what Section 10’s eventual decision will be.

“We really haven’t gotten too deep into the weeds in regards to playoffs or no playoffs,” Normandin said. “Again, we’re trying to look at cost-saving measures for schools, maximizing transportation because there will be some restrictions on transportation, just those types of things.”

Normandin stated that he believes over the course of the next week or so, Section 10 will have a better idea of where it is with league and postseason play as practices roll out. It’s been one step at a time for his 24 school districts.

“I think, to be fair, it was a monumental task to get everybody on the same page, the same understanding to get fall sports up and going,” Normandin said.

The next few weeks will be critical in carrying out Fall Season I. It will be on all athletic directors, coaching staffs and student-athletes within Section 10 to carry out and follow the protocols and regulations given by the New York State Department of Health, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s guidance.

This entails proper sanitation of equipment, social distancing, not being engaged in physical activity in close proximity and constantly being prompted to stick to the guidance given.

“Nobody wants to be that district or that team that has some type of health issue and it could’ve been avoided if everybody was following those health protocols,” Normandin said. “My expectation would be that the school administrators in Section 10 have done their due diligence and done their homework.”

Section 10 pushed the swim season to the spring and will begin all other low- and-moderate risk sports practices as early as Sept. 21. The state of New York awaits guidance on high-risk sports for Fall Season II.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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