After surveying its 104-member schools regarding the start of the fall season for low- and moderate-risk sports, Section 3 announced Friday it will be moving forward with the Sept. 21 start date set by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
Come Sept. 21, soccer, tennis, golf, field hockey, cross country, gymnastics and swimming will all be permitted to begin practicing in Section 3, with competitions coming as soon as the 10 required practices days are fulfilled. Section 3 also announced that it will not be holding section playoffs for fall sports; state and regional playoffs have already been called off by the NYSPHSAA.
It is now up to the individual school districts to determine how they themselves will proceed.
The Frontier League will meet with its member superintendents Monday morning where each school will provide information on how its district will pursue fall sports. They could decide to start Sept. 21 or delay the season.
Following a meeting with superintendents on Monday morning, the Frontier League executive committee will meet around 12:30 p.m.
“I suspect some of the Frontier League schools probably voted (in the Section 3 survey) to postpone the season until January and now have the option to not play the fall season if they choose,” Frontier League assistant director Scott Connell said.
Of Section 3’s 104-member schools, 97 responded to its survey with 58 percent indicating they are ready to begin fall sports Sept. 21 and 42 percent requesting to delay the fall season until after Jan. 1, 2021.
“We understand the challenges many schools face and the difficult decisions superintendents, principals, and athletic administrators are being required to make to keep student-athletes, spectators, and sport officials safe,” Section 3 executive director John Rathbun said in a press release. “We continue to stay committed to providing support to our member schools and the student-athletes we serve.”
If the decision from Frontier League superintendents is not unanimous, the Frontier League could then come up with a schedule for those schools that wish to play this fall.
“Based on the feedback from the superintendents meeting, we’ll decide at that point how to move forward, I mean if they all come back and say that ‘we’re not playing until January,’ then the league does not need to do anything,” Connell said. “If teams say they’re playing then we’ll create a schedule for the teams that are choosing to play.”
Connell described the Frontier League as a “service organization,” and one that won’t make decisions on who plays and who doesn’t play.
“As of now the superintendents will decide what’s going to happen on Monday morning and what their school wants to do,” Connell said. “They have the weekend to have those discussions with the players, the board of education, the coaches, they’ll have those discussions with all those people and hopefully Monday come to the table and have a decision for their school.”
Cooperstown, Remsen and Waterville are the only three Section 3 schools to officially postpone its fall seasons until after Jan. 1
Sept. 21 will be a week away from Monday, effectively giving schools that wish to start on that day, one week to figure out the answers to any questions they might still have, whether it’s about safety or logistics.
“I’m conflicted,” South Jefferson girls soccer coach Terry Burgess said. “For several reasons. For one thing, you’re going to get a final decision Monday, from how I understand, schools have to come up with guidelines for various things and you’re giving them one week to do so. So, will there be discussions that say, ‘let’s move back one more week?’”
The NYSPHSAA sent out a revised version of its “Return to Interscholastic Athletics” guide Friday. Along with adjusting dates to reflect Wednesday’s decision to move the start of high-risk sports seasons to March 1, 2021, the document also updated guidelines regarding offseason workouts and facility usage.
The document, which breaks down guidelines for each fall sport can be used to help schools determine what they can and cannot do in athletics.
“I can say this, we’re going to follow the guidelines of the (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) if we choose to play then we’ll play by those rules,” Connell, who also serves as superintendent of Copenhagen, said. “If we can’t separate, we’ll be masked.”