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East Meadow School District lays out guidelines for high-risk sports

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Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave student athletes the long-awaited green light to start playing high-risk sports and, shortly after, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran followed suit by permitting schools to start games as soon as Feb. 8.

Meanwhile, in the East Meadow School District, Kristi Detor, the director of athletics, gave a presentation at the Feb. 10 Board of Education meeting detailing the guidelines and protocols for resuming sports like cheerleading, wrestling and lacrosse.

“This has been an extremely taxing and difficult school year for all of us,” Detor said. “The athletes are extremely excited and thankful that the athletic program has the opportunity to reintroduce athletics.”

The high school seasons were modified and condensed to from the typical 12 to 16 weeks to roughly 45 days each. The winter season, from Jan. 4 to Feb. 26, includes boy’s and girl’s basketball, boy’s and girl’s bowling, cheerleading, wrestling and boy’s and girl’s track. The fall season, from March 1 to April 21, includes football, boy’s and girl’s soccer, cross-country, boy’s and girl’s volleyball, field hockey and girl’s tennis. The spring season, from April 22 to June 14, includes boy’s and girl’s lacrosse, baseball, softball, boy’s tennis and boy’s and girl’s track and field. Football could be extended more than a one week period for postseason play, if necessary.

“Everyone started spinning to figure out how are we are going to safely do this and what will that look like,” Detor said, explaining that the district consulted Dr. John Zaso, the district physician, while developing protocols and procedures based on the guidance from the New York State Department of Health, New York State Education Department, Section VIII Athletics and New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

All students, coaches, officials and spectators must maintain six feet distance between one another when possible and must wear face masks when possible. When students wear mouth guards, they must keep them in their mouth or wash them if they come out before putting them back. If a student doesn’t feel well, they must tell their coach. Anyone participating in indoor, high-risk sports must provide a negative Covid-19 test once a week.

The district is not permitting any spectators for indoor athletic contest. Spectators are permitted outdoors, but only two are invited per student-athlete. The district is also working on live-streaming all games to allow fans to watch.

Masks must be worn at all times while on the bus. Student-athletes may travel to and/or from an away or neutral site contest with a parent/guardian if the “Transportation Consent Form,” is emailed to the athletic director and approved. Carpooling is not recommended, but if it is necessary, all parties should wear masks and allow for windows to be open during the car ride.

“We’re all aware of the need for our student-athletes to regain some semblance of normalcy,” Detor said. “Although this is a new landscape for athletics and it is not ideal, it is allowing them to experience the needed social and emotional aspects of sport bringing them together in a way that they have not been able to.

Although the hurdles in place required to participate may cause some discomfort or time to adjust, they are in place to enhance our overall ability to keep the students, staff and community safe. Athletes are strong and overcome difficult conditions and will acclimate to the masks. Without question, our paramount concern is to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our schools while allowing them the opportunity to celebrate sport.”

To view the district’s full list of protocols, visit https://bit.ly/3kg6WHW.