The New York State Public High School Athletic Association released a 49-page document on Friday outlining the guidelines for the return to interscholastic athletics. The document is intended to be easily read with much of the information already well known around the state of New York.
Fall sports will be set to begin practice on Sept. 21, with low-risk sports able to compete in regular season games after 10 practices. Football and volleyball are considered high-risk sports and have limitations with practice. On their respective pages of the document, the NYSPHSAA states:
“NYSPHSAA is seeking clarification pertaining to the practice activities that will be permissible for high risk sports.”
While it was already announced that the start of the winter sports season had been moved from Nov. 16 to Nov. 30 in order to give the fall season more time to finish, the NYSPHAA also set March 15 as the start date for spring sports. With these dates in mind, it’s ultimately up to each section as to when the start dates are for their seasons. It will also be up to each section as to whether or not teams will play sectional championships, as there will be no state titles this year.
Other important dates include Oct. 12 and Oct. 19.
There is a current rule in place where teams cannot practice or compete through seven consecutive days. On Oct. 12, the rule will be lifted. In the document, the NYSPHSAA states:
“As a result of the shortened fall season, NYSPHSAA will waive the seven consecutive day rule starting on October 12th to allow teams to participate or practice on seven consecutive days.”
Starting Oct. 19, low and moderate risk sports teams will be allowed to play outside of their section or league.
A notable takeaway from the document is that it reiterated the New York State Department of Public Health guidelines on high-risk sports. With the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference pushing football to the spring in Connecticut earlier in the day prior to the release of the document, the NYSPHSAA inserted the NYSDOH guidelines under the Dec. 31 section, which states:
“Further...Higher-risk sports (e.g., football, wrestling, rugby, hockey, and volleyball) may practice, effective September 21, 2020, but not play until authorized at a later date, but no later than December 31, 2020; in accordance with the State-issued guidance, such practices are limited to individual or group, no- low-contact training (e.g., skills development) whereby contact between players may only be incidental and any activities that are specifically designed to promote close physical contact are prohibited.”
On pages 12 and 13, there are NYSDOH guidelines for confirmed cases and return to school, and how it impacts high school sports. It states:
“Responsible Parties must establish protocols and procedures in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in person learning environment at school. This return to school protocol shall include at minimum documentation from a health care provider following evaluation, negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result and symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation Responsible Parties should refer to DOH’s ‘Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure’ regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19”
Per NYSDOH guidelines, if a school closes in-person learning and goes virtual due to increased COVID-19 cases, that schools teams will be suspended until in-person learning is back. This doesn’t apply to schools that are remote-only.
Procedures for game officials, ranging from general official guidelines to game day duties, are detailed in pages 16-18. These include various tasks, such as not having handshakes after contests and maintaining proper social distancing. Pages 19-37 give sport-specific information, while pages 38-41 are comprised of Q&A.
The document itself contains all the guidelines that the sections must follow, although the sections are largely in control of their own time frames so long as they are within the limits of the NYSPHSAA. While Section 10 is on course for the upcoming fall sports season, Section 1 delayed its start to Sept. 29 and Section 8 pushed fall sports to the spring.
Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the document was created with a focus on fall sports, with winter and spring seasons subject to change.