ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monday marked the beginning of fall sports for high schools all across the state. It comes at a time where districts are quickly preparing for what full-time learning will look like, amid the Delta variant’s surge.
Eliot Aguirre is going into his senior year at McQuaid Jesuit. He’s played soccer his whole life, so trying out for the varsity team one last time feels extra special.
“This is the best times for us as kids, especially as a senior,” Aguirre said. “It’s just nice to play outside with our friends and not have to wear a mask, this is what makes McQuaid so great and everything about soccer.”
He says there’s a lot of nerves, especially with last year being so uncertain. “With this summer, I was kind of questioning what it was going to be like this year for school,” he said.
One of the biggest changes involving high school sports is the mask-wearing. Masks aren’t required on the field for players this time around, as long as they’re outside.
However, a lot of familiar COVID-19 protocols are staying.
“While we’re indoors we wear our masks,” Nino Pilato, head varsity soccer coach said. “We have hand sanitizer, we’re out here just trying to keep kids clean as best as possible.”
As the delta variant continues to spread, NYSED recently recommended districts cancel high-risk sports in areas of high transmission.
Athletic Director Jon Matt says he doesn’t see this happening. Especially since many of the students are used to being mindful when it comes to staying safe. “Last year was nice because we were in school 5 days a week, so they lived it, they’re used to it, almost like they’re veterans at it.”
“When they’re outside in the open air, the transmission rate is proven to be pretty low if any,” he said.
Matt says students need this outlet.
“Athletics in general just provide a well-rounded base for these kids,” he said.
Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s building a strong foundation of responsibility, preparedness and teamwork — for wherever their next step may be.
This year McQuaid will not be restricting the number of spectators allowed per player. Masks are only required indoors.