NYSPHSAA

The wait isn't over, but for most area high school athletes, at least there's an end in sight.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, Aug. 24, that "lower risk" and "moderate risk" youth sports will be permitted to begin practicing and playing Sept. 21. During a media conference, Cuomo specifically mentioned tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey and swimming as "lower-risk sports," with a later release from his office saying that all sports listed as "low risk" or "moderate risk" by the Department of Health will be permitted to begin playing Sept. 21.

Golf is also among the sports listed as low risk by the DOH.

"Schools will be coming back, there will be a little bit of a period to judge what is happening, and Sept. 21 they can begin to practice and play all across the state," Cuomo said during the conference.

Sports identified as high risk, with Cuomo specifically naming football, wrestling, rugby and ice hockey, will be permitted to begin practice Sept. 21, but are not permitted to begin playing games before Dec. 31. Volleyball is also listed as high risk by the DOH, as are basketball, contact lacrosse, martial arts and competitive cheer.

There are also restrictions on where teams can travel, according to Cuomo, who said teams are limited to travel practices or games against teams from the same region or a region with which a border is shared.

He also said that schools will be responsible for following further guidance provided by the DOH. That guidance includes requirements for standard physical distancing and the wearing of masks. The lone exception for those not required to wear masks when six feet of physical distancing is not possible are participants.

The guidance also limits indoor spaces to 50% occupancy and limits spectators to two per participant.

"Again, we are doing this in phases, we want to see what the effect is, we want to see how this works. Schools opening in general is a big question mark," Cuomo said, noting the the fall may bring a "second wave" of the outbreak.

New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas said in a Twitter post after the announcement he would be meeting with the executive directors of the state's sections Tuesday to "review specific guidance."

Zayas said Friday, Aug. 21, that section directors and NYSPHSAA officers would meet within 24 hours of receiving guidance from the governor's office, and that the association's COVID-19 Task Force would meet within 48 hours of receiving guidance. Within 72 hours, he said NYSPHSAA would announce "remaining decisions."

NYSPHSAA pushed the start of fall sports back to Sept. 21 on July 17.

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