Fall season delayed until Spring 2021; Condensed schedule to begin next year for HS football, volleyball

The Officers of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association voted to delay the official start date of the Fall 2020 sports season, cancel the Fall 2020 Regional and State Championships and prepare to implement a condensed season schedule in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited throughout 2020 due to COVID-19. This decision comes at the recommendation of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force when they convened as a working group for the third time this morning.

“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on August 24th as originally scheduled,” said Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA President. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The decision includes:

– Delay of fall sports until Monday, September 21st;
– Cancel fall regional and state championship events;
– Waive seven-day practice rule;
– Maintain current practice requirements;
– Encourage geographic scheduling for games & contests; and
– Schools would have the option, if permitted by state officials, to offer off-season conditioning workouts.

“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the State level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “At this time, Department of Health guidance presented on July 13th prohibits interscholastic athletics across the state. The Association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with State officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future. As an association, we must be willing to be flexible and continue to explore all options with students’ safety as our main focus.”

With regional differences, schools and areas will be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the NYSPHSAA Officers and authorization from state officials, if the Fall sports seasons are interrupted or impacted by COVID-19 crisis (i.e. state official guidance, school closings, cancelation of high-risk sports, etc.) then a condensed seasons plan will be implemented.

An update from NYSPHAA outlining the new schedule.

The NYSPHSAA Officers have the ability to adjust seasons with the authority granted within the NYSPHSAA Constitution which states: “Article IV, 2: A committee of officers in consultation with the staff will have the authority to act on all matters not provided for in this constitution and bylaws, and on such emergency business as may arise between regular meetings of the Executive Committee.”

In an effort to assist schools in complying with recently released NYSDOH guidance, the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force is supportive of the use of the ezSCRN application. The ezSCRN application provides a unique online tool for schools to utilize if screening is part of their reopening plan as it complies with New York state and national restrictions and guidelines (i.e. Ed 2D Law, etc.).

The EzScrn application allows a school or team to easily screen, trace and track students/ staff and immediately notify school administrators and health care officials of anyone exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.

A full report, including meeting minutes, will be released later this week. The next meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force has not been determined. Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director, will be available to the media, via a zoom press conference, at 3:00 PM today. To be invited to this press conference, media are asked to contact Chris Watson, NYSPHSAA Director of Communications, at cwatson@nysphsaa.org.