New York State's Education Department on Thursday released a set of 2021-22 school reopening guidelines that recommended schools cancel high-risk sporting events in areas where there is high transmission of COVID-19 unless the participants are all fully vaccinated.
As reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the state Department of Health considers the fall sports of football, volleyball and competitive cheer/dance to be "higher risk." At last check Thursday, the CDC reported at least 25 counties in New York had "high" rates of COVID transmission over the previous seven days.
"High-risk sports and extracurricular activities should be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated," the guidelines read.
The Education Department's guidelines are not mandates, but rather recommendations school districts can choose whether to follow. Fall sports are scheduled to begin Aug. 23.
For sports and other extracurricular activities with an elevated risk of spreading COVID — such as chorus and band — the state department recommends regular virus testing in line with CDC guidance.
"It's not surprising and it's unfortunate because of what the kids missed last year, and here we are again doing the same thing and there can be a lot of opportunities missed once again," Port Jervis football coach Damien Striharsky told the Democrat and Chronicle.
Last school year, football, volleyball and girls swimming were moved from fall to spring with seasons abbreviated.
"We’re heading right back to where we were, I’m afraid," Somers athletic director Roman Catalino said. "When I hear 'high risk' I think of what we did last year."
Catalino added that his school district knows that some of its athletes have been vaccinated but has "no true idea" of the number.