The Midstate Athletic Conference and Tri-Valley League both rendered decisions on “high-risk” sports on Jan. 29 following resolutions by area Departments of Health authorizing “high-risk sports” under the condition that the COVID-19 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate remains under 4.0%.
The MAC announced that it has postponed the start of “high-risk” winter sports until Feb. 8, while the TVL said it has canceled its winter sports season.
“Based on Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement regarding high-risk athletics, and after receiving guidance from multiple County Departments of Health, the Tri-Valley League will cancel the Winter athletic season. The Tri-Valley League considered all options based on the requirements of the guidance document and current COVID-19 data and metrics,” the TVL announced to its member schools via email.
“It wasn’t one thing, it was the confluence of all these realities we're living in, the high positivity rate, the quick turn around time and the approvals that are required — and then looking at the calendar and trying to fit it all into three weeks, it just didn’t seem feasible,” Milford Central School Superintendent Mark Place said.
According to the TVL announcement, the league has shifted its focus to having Fall 2 and Spring athletic seasons.
“We thought, at the end of the day as superintendents, that if we invested our time coming up with a good plan for Fall II sports ... that we'll have a much better plan in place — and also the ability to keep the transmission of COVID-19 down,” Place said.
“We'd love to do this, we want to do this, but there's just so many hurdles right now,” he added.
Place said, the league's decision was not put to a vote, but was a general consensus by all of the league's superintendents.
The TVL spans three counties, Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie, and includes Franklin, Cherry Valley-Springfield, Edmeston, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton, Laurens, Milford, Morris, Richfield Springs, Schenevus, Worcester and Sharon Springs schools.
According to Place, major factors influencing the TVL decision were schools not having students back full time, the league being made up of multiple counties, the expedited timeline and Otsego County's 7-day rolling rate of infection numbers, prior to SUNY Oneonta students returning.
“Looking at all of the things … just looking at the calendar, it didn’t make any sense to try and shove an entire season into three weeks,” Place said. “Just the logistics of putting it all together doesn’t seem responsible.”
The last time Otsego County's 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate was under 4% was Dec. 3, when it was 3.7%, according to the state Department of Health's "percentage positive results by county" dashboard.
Place said the reason Otsego County's numbers recently dropped was because of SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College students returning to the area and skewing the number of negative test results.
Around the area, Chenango (5.3%), Delaware (6.1%), Otsego (4.0%) and Schoharie (5.1%) counties all have a 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate at or above 4%.
The MAC spans *four counties — *Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego — and includes Afton, *Deposit, Bainbridge-Guilford, Delaware Academy, *Hankcock, *Harpursville, Unadilla Valley, Unatego, Sidney, and Walton schools.
The Daily Star reached out to Mike Rullo, superintendent of Harpursville Central School and president of the MAC via email, but had not received a response at press time.
Both league announcements come following a Jan. 28 decision by the Delaware League to cancel “high-risk”' winter sports.
* Edited at 11:47 p.m. February 3, 2021 to add Deposit, Hancock and Harpursville to the list of MAC schools.