KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane School Board voted to approve the start of high risk sports at a special online meeting on February 9. The sports include boys and girls basketball (varsity and JV), boys volleyball (varsity), girls volleyball (varsity, JV and modified), football (varsity), cheerleading (varsity) and wrestling (varsity).
The board included wording in the resolution that there would need to be a testing protocol for wrestling, since it was the one sport about which a couple of board members had concerns.
On January 22, the governor announced that high risk sports were authorized to begin practice and competition on February 1, if permitted by local health authorities.
“It kind of caught everyone off guard,” ICC District’s Athletic Director Tim Stewart said at the meeting.
After the state’s announcement, the county Department of Health told schools to hold off the start of so-called high risk sports until there was a drop in the seven-day rolling average in the positivity rate for Covid-19. The county set that rates at 4% or below in the county, and hospital bed capacity in excess of 15% in the capital region.
“At the time, it was pretty high,” Mr. Stewart of the cases at the time the governor made the annoucenment.
On February 10, county Department of Health (DOH) Director Jack Mabb gave the go-ahead for county schools to start practicing for sports, according to a release from the DOH.
“For practices to begin, the school district’s Board of Education… must approve the district/school’s participation in each higher-risk sport. Further, each school leader must oversee the creation of a sport-specific preparedness plan, which must be approved by the district/school’s medical director,” the release said.
At the board meeting, Mr. Stewart presented the board with an overview of a preparedness plan for each high risk sport that has been approved by the district’s physician.
The athletic director told the board there would be no spectators at games, athletes must wear face coverings unless they cannot be tolerated, and the plan is to stay as close to home as possible for away games. There is a two page parent consent form. He also talked about what other districts in the Colonial Council are doing. Mr. Stewart said that five of the districts in the council are holding off on wrestling for various reasons.
The county DOH recommended that each student-athlete have medical clearance from his or her healthcare provider and that students must have a parent or guardian’s informed consent. The DOH release also says, “all parties must agree to fully cooperate with case investigations and to adhere to isolation and quarantine orders. All student-athletes will be required to be tested once a week, utilizing rapid antigen tests supplied by the county and/or Quester III BOCES.”
Mr. Stewart said that sports like cross-country, track, field hockey and soccer are already approved since they are considered low to moderate risk sports.
As for the high risk sports, Mr. Stewart said the district will “try to make these sports as safe as possible for our student athletes.” And he said that if Covid-19 cases go up in the county, the sports will be paused.
‘It kind of caught everyone off guard.’
Tim Stewart, athletic director
Ichabod Crane School District
Registration for the sports will be open to students in the hybrid and fully remote schedules. Mr. Stewart said he would open the enrollment for the sports as soon as possible and see how many students sign up.
He did say that wrestling was a smaller group of students. He also said that there is wrestling going on in other states and that students have been crossing state lines to participate. If there are sports in the ICC district, the athletes would not be allowed to play on travel teams.
Board member Susan Ramos was concerned about the safety of wrestling. She abstained from the final resolution.
Mr. Stewart said he hopes the success of high risk sports will lead to more extracurricular activities returning to the district and that the district will be able to do more in physical ed classes.
For more information on the plan is at www.ichabodcrane.org