Potsdam Central deciding if, when to offer safe extracurriculars
BY MATT LINDSEY
North Country This Week
POTSDAM -- With school back in session, Potsdam Central School officials will decide if and how to safely offer extracurricular activities to students.
PCS Superintendent Joann Chambers said the State Public High School Athletic Association issued guidance to the district last Friday.Chambers said it would be a Section 10 decision, but first, it needs to be decided how PCS would like to proceed.
PCS Athletic Director Mark Wilson was tasked with pouring over the information and updated the school board on what is allowed and what the guidelines are.
Potsdam Central will be allowed to offer cross-country, swimming and soccer, which are considered low to moderate risk sports. Athletes in those sports can compete against other schools.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced Sept. 9 that football, volleyball and competitive cheer fall seasons will be postponed until March 1, 2021 to address membership concerns associated with high-risk fall sports. The decision was rendered by the elected NYSPHSAA officers.
Low and moderate risk fall sports, meanwhile, are still authorized to begin practices on Sept. 21, 2020 as previously announced.
The state guidance also covers what screening and protocols will be for officials, parents, spectators, coaches and student-athletes.
“Just for example. Student-athletes would need to wear the masks any time they are not doing vigorous physical activity. So if they are on the sideline they are wearing a mask, if they are walking to the game they are wearing a mask, on the bus they are wearing a mask,” Wilson said.
He added that the only time swimmers would not be wearing a mask is when they are actually in the water.
Students will need their own water bottles. Sharing bottles will not be allowed.
Wilson said he met with several other athletic directors that day and said there is excitement to begin the sports season Sept. 21.
Should in-person learning stop due to an outbreak or other factors, sports season would be suspended until in-person learning resumes, Wilson said.
State guidance would allow for two spectators per participant, but you also can’t exceed a 50% capacity of a building.
Chambers said superintendents and athletic directors will try to keep consistent guidelines between schools so that spectators have similar experiences at home and away games.
Wilson said the district had the ability to live-stream games from the turf field and plans to do so. This way parents and others can watch the games if they cannot attend live. This could be done at all levels of competition.
Wilson also said changes have allowed for games to be played on Saturdays and Sundays if needed.
Some questions remained unanswered. Will the district offer sports at all levels, or just varsity? Will coaches be paid all their salary up front? Will the district allow sports mergers as they have in the past?
Chambers said her personal opinion is to allow for sports mergers. She believes guidelines are being followed at neighboring districts and pointed out that students from different schools are already interacting at BOCES and some likely socialize outside of school.
Wilson said that even if other districts decide not to have sports teams this year, PCS would create a schedule to offer its students some sort of season. Right now, Massena Central can not offer sports as their in-person instruction was delayed until October.
Wilson said once they get the official go ahead to start sports seasons, he will sit down with all the coaches to discuss the details.
In a separate issue, Sandstoner swimmers are searching for a pool to use this season. The team had previously used Clarkson University’s pool, but officials there are not allowing that to happen now. Wilson reached out to SUNY Potsdam, Canton Central and St. Lawrence Central to see if PCS students would use their pool. All schools declined.
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