‘Fall 2’ sports season ready to kick off

Massena’s Hunter Pryce looks to tackle Potsdam’s Zach Kirka during a 2019 Northern Athletic Conference football game in Massena. Football is part of this year’s “fall 2” sports season. Alain St. Pierre/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The “fall 2” athletic season is set to begin, but with no spectators at the games.

Under a winter sports safety plan approved by the Massena Central School Board of Education last month, and which is being carried over and adapted to the fall 2 season, “Spectators will not be permitted per the ‘Section X Contest Guidelines Winter 2020-2021’ until deemed safe and appropriate.”

Instead, games were streamed live for spectators to watch.

Board member Kevin Perretta questioned the decision to exclude spectators during Thursday’s meeting. He said that, since there hadn’t been any instances of quarantines or other health-related issues during the winter sports season, parents of seniors should be allowed to observe the games in person.

But, Athletic Director Gavin Regan said, that won’t happen until the guidelines are changed by Section 10 officials and superintendents.

“Based on our safety plan that we had approved, we said spectators were changed by Section 10 or superintendents and were let in, which has not happened. So that’s not something I can say,” he said.

Superintendent Patrick Brady said the consensus among superintendents was that they were trying to reduce risk, and not allowing spectators would help them meet that goal.

“I think you are going to see it start opening up in the next level as the fall 2 and the spring seasons, but there has been a consensus on winter sports,” he said.

Mr. Regan said, although parents could not observe games during senior night, other senior night events outside of the sports venues would be taking place.

“That’s disappointing,” Mr. Perretta said.

He pointed out that the district’s safety plan included guidelines for spectators.

“There’s like six or seven bullet points about spectators,” he said.

Among them, the guidelines say, “Spectators, when deemed safe and appropriate, will be limited to the appropriate number as determined by the appropriate parties.”

“I asked the last time, what is the definition of safe and appropriate,” Mr. Perretta said.

“When Section 10 says it’s safe and appropriate,” Mr. Brady said. “There was a lot of discussion. The consensus was this plan was not to change.”

He said one of the district’s priorities was to keep schools open, as well as provide activities for students.

“When this plan was created, that’s one of the reasons why spectators was such a big issue. We recognize parents want to be there. I do expect going into the next season, as we see these plans change as the pandemic changes, we’re going to see more outside activities where there will be spectators allowed,” Mr. Brady said.

Mr. Regan said the winter sports season had gone very well, and he provided board members with two addendums that cover the fall 2 sports season for football and volleyball.

“Our winter sports have gone very well. That is basically due to the hard work of our coaches, our nursing staff, Trisha LaBarge, my assistant, and obviously the parents and the players. Everybody has done their part to give everybody the opportunity to play,” he said.

He said the fall 2 sports season, like the winter sports, would be short. It’s scheduled to start on Monday and wrap up around April 22. The spring sports season will start on April 19.

“We’re going to have a couple of days of overlap,” Mr. Regan said.

He said that because the winter sports season had gone so well, they wanted to squeeze in one more game, creating the overlap with the spring season.

He said the plan they are currently using for basketball or ice hockey would be adapted for football and volleyball in the addendums approved by the board for fall 2 sports.

“Athletes would wear masks, socially distance, sanitize any equipment which may be shared, and in general continue with the mitigation efforts which many of them are now accustomed,” the addendums read.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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