High-risk high school sports to resume in Monroe County after New York changes COVID-19 guidance

High School Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — A big change that local athletes have been waiting for.

New York state updated its COVID-19 guidelines Friday to let local county health departments determine if higher-risk youth sports can be played, effective February 1, 2021.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza have already signed off on the idea, saying in part in a joint statement Friday: “We support allowing these activities to begin in Monroe County.”

In the update Friday:

Effective February 1, 2021, participants in higher risk sports and recreation activities may partake in individual or distanced group training and organized no/low-contact group training and, further, may partake in other types of play, including competitions and tournaments, only as permitted by the respective local health authorities (i.e., county health departments).

  • Local health authorities should consider the following factors in authorizing or continuing to prohibit higher risk sports and recreational activities as, in many areas, these factors may weig against permitting such activities:
    • whether there has been a more-transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area,
    • local rates of COVID-19 transmission or rate of positivity, and
    • local ability to monitor and enforce compliance.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza issued this joint statement on Friday afternoon:

“Over the past several weeks, we have heard from many parents, families and student-athletes regarding a return of ‘higher-risk’ high school sports. This is an issue we’ve been continuously advocating for through the Finger Lakes Regional Control Room, to ensure our young athletes have an opportunity to compete safely. There have been many meetings with the Monroe County School Superintendents and Athletic Directors, as this planning requires public health and safety remain at the forefront. Our school districts have done an incredible job mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We support the Governor’s proposal to allow these activities to resume on February 1, 2021, and we support allowing these activities to begin in Monroe County. We will be again meeting with area school leadership in the coming days to develop plans so that our young people in Monroe County can participate.

We know how hard the last 10 months have been for our community, particularly our students and high school student-athletes. The return of high school sports will give them a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity to compete with their friends and classmates.

Before the update from the state, Dr. Mendoza expressed optimism about the possibility in Thursday’s coronavirus briefing.

“The sports themselves have not been a major source of transmission,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It’s the before and after activities, the gatherings in the homes, in the locker room, etc. I think we can look at this, but the science is limited on how do we proceed with this? We have learned a bit form other parts of the country, but our numbers here are still pretty high. I’m always going to be cautious — that’s part of my job, but I also think we need to be open on ways to do this safely, and our schools have demonstrated that time and time again.”

Full guidance

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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