by Dave Warner

The New York State Department of Health has updated its interim guidance for sports and recreation during the COVID-19 health emergency. This guidance is effective immediately for the statewide permitted outdoor, low-risk
recreational activities, as determined by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) including:

  • tennis;
  • non-motorized boat use and rentals, such as rowboats, kayaks, canoes;
  • golf and driving ranges, except miniature (mini) golf, with food and retail services subject to the restrictions that are currently in effect within the region;
  • racket games, such as badminton, racquetball;
  • toss/bowl games, such horseshoes, bocce, bean bag toss, croquet;
  • flying disc games, such as disc golf and frisbee;
  • shuffleboard;
  • zip lining;
  • rope courses, including aerial rope courses;
  • batting cages;
  • shooting ranges; and
  • swim classes and swim instruction.

According to the State, “These guidelines apply to non-professional and non-collegiate sports and recreation activities (e.g. youth sports), inclusive of indoor and outdoor sports and recreation, as well as organized and non-organized sports and recreation.”

It’s assumed, that based on this update, high-risk high school sports will be able to resume on February 1st. This would include sports like football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, competitive cheer, and group dance, as well as other sports and recreational activities that have a similar ability to maintain physical distance.

“These guidelines also apply to outdoor sports and recreational activities conducted by gyms, fitness centers, training facilities, and other related facilities. However, gyms, fitness centers, and other such facilities are limited to no more participants than is allowed under the non-essential gathering restriction that is in effect for their region; and gyms, fitness centers, and other facilities are prohibited from conducting indoor activities at this time. Additional guidance on gyms and fitness centers is forthcoming to supplement these guidelines,” the document says.

The county will have to make the final determination, as the state requires them to consider three things before making a determination: The local COVID-19 rates, the local ability to monitor compliance with rules, and whether the U.K. strain of the coronavirus is present within the area.

According to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Dr. Robert Zayas, the decision has been in the works for months.

“We heard in November, and early December that in order to expand the sports offerings we were going to have to see a decline in infection rates, and hospitalizations. In Governor Cuomo’s’ press conference earlier today (Friday) we did see some evidence of that,” Zayas said.

In Little Falls, the schools have switched back to all-virtual instruction as of today (1/25/2021) as several individuals in essential positions throughout the district were placed on quarantine. Dr. Keith T. Levatino stated, “This decision is not due to any large outbreak or a mandatory closure, but because the employees involved are in positions that can’t be easily filled by substitutes. There is no health impact on students, or on other faculty and staff.”

He went on to say that they expect to resume instruction on February 1st.

John Rathbun, Executive Director of Section III Athletics stated, “We are all excited to start, but are still waiting on the decisions from our local DOH. The next couple of days we need to exercise patience as we work out the details so that we’ll be able to provide a safe environment for our students and officials.”

If you’d like to read the full document, you can click here.

Revised (01/25/2021) NYSPHSAA Return to Interscholastic Athletics 2020-2021 Winter & Fall Season II Edition

2021 January - Return To Interscholastic Athletics