Monday was both a day of clarity for the months ahead, mixed with the uncertainty we've become accustomed to over the past few months amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, we were given tangible and transparent benchmarks for the full return to School in the Fall. On the other hand, the guidance does not include those same clear pathways to a return to the Fall Sports Season.
Two separate meetings were held this morning. Earlier, the State Board of Regents outlined several key guidelines in the return to school process, as well as requiring schools to submit plans for their return-to-school options. Currently, three options exist. Online-only, full return to classrooms, or a hybrid approach of each. For in-person instruction, School would have to require masks for situations that would not enable 6-feet of social distancing. The decision on which of the three options each district would adopt would fall to each of those individual school districts, with only the hybrid and full-return options being available if designated so by the Governor's Office.
Later in the day, Governor Cuomo released those designations. Mirroring his economic reopening plan, Cuomo's educational reopening plan is data-based, regional, and transparent. Schools will be able to fully reopen if the percentage of positive test results in the region are below 5% for an average of 14 days. That initial decision would could Aug 1st, with the option to close schools again should that number exceed 9% at any time in the future. Currently, every school district is at a less than 5% positive rate.
However, while schools were set to reopen, specific guidance was not originally provided on the subject of extra-curricular's. On the slides, it was designated that extra-curricular's would abide by "NYS Procedures," without designating what those specific procedures were. Dr. Robert Zayas, Executive Director of NYSPHSAA, later followed up with the New York State Department of Health on what those procedures would be. The response (below) outlined that further guidance would be provided, but was not currently available at this time. No date was given on the release of that guidance.
NYSPHSAA had been busy proposing scenario's of their own. Just last week, they released 6 potential scenarios for the Fall Season. Much of those were dependent on what the final decision on school reopening looked like, and what options schools opted for when given the potential three directions outlined by the Board of Regents.
While it looks like, at this time and given the current data, kids will be back in school this fall, it is still unknown in what capacity that will be in-person, and what effect that may have on the Fall Season.
More to come.