MID-HUDSON – Top county officials from across the Hudson Valley have authorized the resumption of high-risk sports to proceed effective February 1.
Their collaborative decision comes after the state issued interim guidance for sports and recreation during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The county officials gave the okay for the “high-risk” sports – both scholastic and non-scholastic – to proceed “at the sole discretion of the governing school district or non-scholastic athletic organization.
Among the activities included will be football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, and competitive cheer/dance.
A joint statement by the county officials stated: “Our region agrees that sports provide many positive impacts for a student’s social, physical, and emotional wellbeing and should be authorized whenever possible. However, COVID-19 transmission rates around the state and throughout the Hudson Valley region demonstrate the critical nature of proper safety precautions to limit the continued spread of the virus in our communities.”
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said, “The health and safety of students, staff and the local community during this pandemic must be each district’s first priority. What works in one district does not necessarily work in another.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “we will continue to be vigilant for the sake of all involved.”
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said, “It is important that this be approached as a region, but that families make their own educated decisions based on their student-athlete and other household members.”
Rockland County Executive: “As a 20-year-youth sports coach, I understand and fully appreciate the value of sports competition to the well-being of our young people.”
Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek said while he “appreciates the role high school sports plays in the development of well-rounded, healthy young people… we remain in the midst of a serious global pandemic, and it’s critical that our local school districts, athletes and families exercise ongoing diligence and wise judgment in determining when, where and how to mount practices and games. We can’t risk losing the progress we are making in fighting this virus and reopening our schools and communities.”
Ulster County Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said, “In response to New York State Department of Health’s new guidance on sports, we are committed to working with our schools, parents and student-athletes to ensure all school sports are conducted as safely as possible.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer: “Since early March Westchester County has grappled with the realities of COVID-19. While the bodily threats of the virus are clearly documented – the mental impacts of COVID-19 are also equally devastating. Children, in particular, have suffered significant mental harm due to the isolation of not being in school consistently, not socializing with friends and family, and not partaking in extracurricular actives. We know there is not a quick fix, but we also know that science has shown us, time and time again, that certain actives can resume with proper precautions put in place. Today, I stand with my fellow Hudson Valley County Executives in support of sports resuming in schools. To be clear, there will be protective protocols in place, and these additional precautions are to protect the athletes. But, I am in favor of providing our children with some normalcy so that they can begin to heal from this horrific pandemic. The resumption of sports will be important for the continued development and mental well-being of our young people – we must never forget them in the decisions we make.”