Section 6 will move forward planning athletic seasons for low and moderate-risk sports following the release of NYSPHSAA guidelines on Friday.

In accordance with guidance from New York governor Andrew Cuomo, the NYSPHSAA’s (New York State Public High School Athletic Association) Return To Interscholastic Athletics Document states itself to be a “recommended resource on how schools may approach” the coming fall season, and the sports calendar as a whole. The choice of whether or not to play, however, will go to each section and school district. Section 8 was the first (and only, so far) in the state to postpone the season into the spring.

The guidelines allow sports such as cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving and tennis to schedule competitions after practices begin on Sept. 21. But three high-risk fall sports — football, volleyball and competitive cheerleading — can only practice, for an indeterminate period, in limited individual or group settings. The NYSPHSAA also delayed the start of the winter season by two weeks, to Nov. 30.

Section 6 released a statement from executive committee president Brett Banker regarding the NYSPHSAA document late Sunday night. The section will work with its sports chair people on how to plan the season, but will leave the choice of whether or not to play up to individual school districts:

“The membership of Section VI appreciates the important work of the NYSPHSAA Task Force. The document, ‘Return to Interscholastic Athletics’, released last Friday, represents an intensive amount of work and we appreciate their diligence. These are great professionals doing an incredible service for all of us.

“The Executive Committee (of Section VI), has reviewed the document. We will be reaching out to our sports chair people to answer any questions that they have. We will open the lines of communication further by surveying our membership, interpreting the results and determining where we are as a Section. We hope to have a clear direction this week.

“It is our important responsibility as an Executive Committee to review the guidelines from numerous sources and prepare a plan for the school districts in our Section to utilize if they so desire. Having said that, we know that local districts have the ultimate responsibility and this is a school-by-school decision.

“We recognize how difficult these decisions are and there are varying opinions and strong feelings. Interscholastic athletics means so much to everyone involved. At the center of our focus is our student-athletes. All of us want our students back playing and competing safely. The attributes derived from competing are obvious to all of us.”

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