NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force Set To Convene For First Meeting Wednesday

By: Meagan Schulz

NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force set to convene for first meeting Wednesday A host of Norwich football players bring down the Maine-Endwell ball carrier during a game last October. Football is considered a high-risk contact sport and will need to meet many guidelines provided by the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) in order to return this fall following the COVID-19 pandemic. New York State has assembled a task force and will look to use the guidance from the NFHS SMAC in order to have high school sports return to play this fall. (Keith Lanfear Photo)

ALBANY – High school sports are planning to start on August 24 and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is taking the next step make the plan become a reality on Wednesday, June 10.

“At this time, we are planning to start fall sports on August 24,” Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said. “With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, I want to make sure we are prepared to focus attention on keeping student-athletes engaged in their school communities and active, while also abiding by Department of Health and Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s guidelines. We must have innovative and creative thought to provide beneficial participation playing experiences for students.”

After the spring sports season was officially canceled on May 1, the NYSPHSAA president Paul Harrica and Zayas announced there was to be an Ad Hoc Committee for the fall sports season.

By May 12, Harrica – with input from Zayas – finished the selection process for the committee and the names for 24 of the 25 members were released. The task force members selected by the NYSPHSAA president are those of NYSPHSAA-member superintendents, principals, athletic directors and executive directors, in addition to representatives from New York State Athletic Administrators Association and the state’s Education Department. The lone member that was not named was someone from the state’s Department of Health.

“The goal of this task force is to bring together a group of experienced administrators and professionals to examine potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the upcoming school year, and to provide guidance and recommendations to the 11 Sections of NYSPHSAA,” Harrica said.

Representing Section IV are Hancock’s District Principal Julie Bergman will serve as the task force’s Vice President and Chris Durdon, Windsor’s Athletic Director. Durdon was selected as the committee’s district transportation director.

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Some of the topics that the task force is expected to review are practice requirements, protocols, procedures, resocialization efforts, transportation of athletes, fan attendance as well as many other matters where social distancing efforts may be questioned.

On May 15, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) released a 16-page document as a guide for reopening sports and activities.

The document lists points of emphasis, preventative measures that must take place before any contact play resumes and a three-phase plan for sports to return to practices and contests while evaluating the level of risk categories that each sport falls under.

The NFHS SMAC guidance also states that social distancing and face coverings should be used until a valid treatment or vaccine is available if practices or games are to take place.

The CDC’s, the New York State Department of Public Health and Cuomo’s orders for public health would also help in the determination of when all sports could fully return to play.

It is to be expected that the NYSPHSAA Task Force will follow these guidelines as the association is a member of the NFHS and Dr. Zayas serves as one of the 15 members for the NFHS SMAC.

No time has been announced for when the meeting will take place.

Below are the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force Members:

President: Paul Harrica (Section 10), task force chair.

Vice president: Julie Bergman (Section 4).

2nd vice president: Russell Bartlett (Section 10).

Immediate past president: Jim Osborne (Section 9).

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