The Saugerties Central School District (SCSD) earlier this month announced the return of low-risk sports for the upcoming rescheduled Fall II sports season, which will run from March 1 through April 15. As was the case when high-risk sports were cleared at the state and county level last month, the SCSD will not offer sports which run the greatest risk of spreading Covid-19.
At the February 11 school board meeting, Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt explained the district’s rationale in allowing for the return of varsity-level boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, and girls tennis, all traditionally played during the fall, but condensed and moved to spring due to the state of the global pandemic last year.
“We think it’s safe to run these sports,” said Reinhardt, who noted that the decision was reached following a meeting with William Maliha, the district’s medical director; Lisajane Kappler, director of pupil personnel; and Athletic Director Dom Zarrella, held Friday, February 5.
“We looked at our concerns, we looked at what we thought could happen, we looked at the CDC guidelines, and we looked at what was coming out from Ulster County as far as requirements for us to safely run these seasons,” Reinhardt said.
The district will offer varsity-level-only sports with expanded rosters to allow for greater participation. That decision was made in part due to field availability, and will require the district to tackle issues like setting up changing stations, addressing travel concerns, and bringing on additional staffing. Looking into the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in the locker rooms and showers is also on the district’s agenda, Reinhardt said.
“We feel confident that we can offer the low-risk sports, mainly because they’re held outside,” Reinhardt said.
Two fall sports deemed high-risk will not be offered by the SCSD. Volleyball, played indoors where viral transmission is more likely, was considered too risky. And football had a myriad of problems, including concussion concerns with a contact sport due to the frozen field, a heightened risk of injury with little off-season prep time and a shortened season, and reservations regarding the safe storage of uniforms and locker room use.
No decision has yet been reached about the spring sports season, which is currently set to begin on Monday, April 19 and run through mid-June.