Preparedness Plan for High Risk Fall 2 Sports

Introduction

The Cohoes City School District (CCSD) recognizes the extraordinary nature of the precautions that must be taken to keep students and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district also acknowledges the importance of providing, to the greatest extent practicable, opportunities for students who have not been able to participate in extracurricular activities for nearly a year.

On Friday, January 22, 2021 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that school-sponsored “high risk” sports in all regions may begin to practice and play beginning February 1st with local county health department approval. Subsequently, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) created a detailed set of guidelines (released January 29, 2021) under which individual school districts could gain the needed approval.

According to the Albany County DOH requirements, a sports preparedness plan must be approved by the District Medical Director (School Physician). Individual High risk sports must be approved by the Cohoes City School District Board of Education. To meet these requirements this plan has been developed to offer a limited season for the Fall 2 high risk sports including Varsity Football and Junior Varsity and Varsity Volleyball. This plan addresses all aspects of the Albany  County Department of Health Guidance and Requirements For Resumption of K-12 Higher-Risk Sports Activities. Individual High risk sports must be approved by the Cohoes City School District Board of Education.

The 2021 Fall 2 season for High-Risk sports commences on Monday, March 7, 2021 and will conclude on May 2, 2021. Section 2 Athletics has determined that during the 2021 Fall 2 sports season, no sectionals will be conducted.

Baseline For Return to Athletics

In compliance with the DOH recommendations, the 7-day rolling average percent positivity in Albany county, as calculated by NYSDOH, must be at or below 4.0%. If the 7-day rolling average percent positivity is above 4.0%, then activities will be restricted to individual or distanced group training or organized no/low-contact group training. In addition, we will abide by the following metrics:

  • The region’s hospital capacity (percent of hospital beds available) must be above 15%, as calculated by NYSDOH.
  • The region’s rate of hospital admissions must not be unacceptably high or require additional interventions to control the rate of growth, as determined by NYSDOH.
  • The absence of other emerging epidemiological data, information or factors as determined or identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) or Saratoga County Public Health Services (SCPHS) that impact COVID-19 control or mitigation.

CCSD Athletic Director Jeff Huneau will serve as plan director and is responsible for communicating the plan to student-athletes, coaches, parents, trainers, referees/officials, etc. Jeff Huneau will also  serve as plan coordinator and will serve as a point of contact should any cases be identified. The coordinator will facilitate and assist with case investigation and contact elicitation and notification.

Initial Health Screening

The NYSED has extended the validity of school sport physicals through the end of the 2021 school year. Any student-athlete who had a physical in the 2018-19 or 2019-20 sport seasons can get medically cleared for Winter 2021 with an updated Interval Health History form to be submitted within 30 days of the start of the season. Any student-athlete who did not have a sport physical during that time frame MUST obtain a new one.

Health History

Students are required to update their health history on Family ID which have been revised to  include questions regarding COVID-19 infections and diagnosis. These questions will be used by school health care providers to identify those student-athletes who may require additional medical screening before being cleared for sports.

If a student has tested positive for COVID-19 they will need clearance from their primary care physician.  If a student had COVID-19 related cardiac symptoms or hospitalization they will need clearance from a cardiologist.

Informed Consent

As per Albany County DOH, In order to participate in High Risk Sports, each parent/guardian, student-athlete, and coach must sign an agreement that a condition of ongoing participation includes full cooperation with case investigations and contact elicitation and adherence to isolation and quarantine orders.

Each parent/guardian, student-athlete, and coach understand the risks associated with high risk sports which include but are not limited to:

  • Participation in the sport may expose the student-athlete to COVID-19.
  • Symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus.
  • Masking, distancing, and other mitigation measures reduce, but do not eliminate risk.
  • At present, it cannot be predicted who will become severely ill if infected.
  • COVID-19 can lead to serious medical conditions and death for people of all ages.
  • The long-term effects of COVID-19 are, at present, unknown; even people with mild cases may experience long-term complications.
  • There is a significant risk of transmission to those in the home of infected student-athletes.
  • Older people and people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of serious disease.

Contact tracing

Each parent/guardian, student-athlete, and school official, coach, referee, and manager will agree to fully cooperate with case investigations and contact elicitation and to adhere to isolation and quarantine orders.

Athletic Placement Process

The Interscholastic Athletic Program for High Risk Sports for the 2021 Fall 2  season will be limited to students in grades 9-12. The CCSD  will not be offering Athletic Placement for 7th and 8th grade students to play at the high school level for high risk sports. This will exclude students who went through the Athletic Placement Process as 7th graders in the 2019-2020 school year. This is being done to limit the exposure of different cohorts of students. The APP Process will be revisited for high risk sports in subsequent seasons.

Roster Size

For the 2021 Fall 2 season, coaches will limit the roster size in each sport to be able to accommodate transportation restrictions. Coaches should also limit the travel party for each sport to include only student athletes and coaches. Roster sizes may be larger to accommodate more athlete’s participation with that sport as long as it does not hinder transportation.

Promotion

Student athletes will remain on a roster for the remainder of the season. To limit the  exposure of cohorts students will not be moved up to another level.

Health Screening/Attendance

  • Student Athletes: All heath attestation questions will need to be answered again even if the school district health attestation form was completed previously on Parent Square. Everyone in attendance will have their temperature checked using a hand held digital thermometer or the electronic hand thermometer at the main entrance.
  • Coaches: Each head coach will complete the Athlete /Coach Monitoring Form on a daily basis. The Athlete/Coach Monitoring form will be used to track attendance as well. Coaches will submit their form to the Athletic Director after each practice or game. Accurate attendance is a MUST.
  • Officials: All officials working contests in Cohoes will also complete the COVID-19 Monitoring Form and receive a  temperature check under the direction of the head coach of each sport.  In addition, each official will complete the COVID-19 Event Form indicating their name, phone number, email address, and county of residence.

Mask Protocols

Unless a student athlete has a verified medical condition as attested to by a physician that limits their ability to wear a mask, all student athletes will be required to wear a mask at all times for any sport. Absent a verified medical condition, if a student can’t tolerate a mask they will be substituted or play will stop until the student can return to play with a mask.

Students should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.  If the cloth face covering is removed for a break, the athlete should remain at least 6 feet away from all other individuals.

It is important that the cloth face covering fits the athlete well and is worn over the nose and below the chin at all times when in use. Coaches, trainers, and other individuals who are not directly engaged in physical activity are required to wear a face covering at all times.

Any cloth face covering that becomes saturated with sweat should be changed immediately. Coaches will monitor for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Social Distancing

Student athletes and coaches are expected to follow all social distancing protocols. Coaches should be enforcing social distancing protocols at all times.

  • Wear a mask (see mask protocols outlined above)
  • Socially distance
  • Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently

Officials

Officials are responsible for game management, which does not include monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, symptoms of illnesses and other such issues. This monitoring obligation remains with the home district and each respective coaching staff in accordance with NYSDOH Guidance (Interim COVID-19 Guidance for Sports and Recreation).

Pregame and postgame

There will be no shaking hands during introductions. Traditional pre-game introductions will be altered to ensure social distancing occurs. There shall be no postgame game hand shakes.

Bench Setup

All accommodations will  be made for social distancing while athletes are in the bench area.

Sharing of Equipment

The sharing of objects and equipment (e.g., water bottles, towels, snacks) will be avoided and the use of dedicated personal equipment encouraged.

Practice Locations

Each team will be assigned a practice location for the duration of the season. Teams are expected to use those areas only. Only the Director of Athletics can approve a practice location change.

Practice Guidelines

Student athletes are expected to report to their team’s designated location at their designated time. Athletes must wear masks and maintain proper social distance. Student athletes must be broken into smaller cohorts for warm ups and skill development activities. Student athletes must also be placed in cohorts based on position or role in the team (i.e. defense, offense, etc.). Coaches should be able to identify the student athletes who were together at any time.

Locker Rooms

To further minimize any additional close contact by student groups, locker room use is prohibited until further notice. Student athletes should arrive at practices and games ready to play.

Competition Guidelines

It is the responsibility of the coaches to familiarize themselves with the NYSPHSAA Return to Athletics Guidelines for their respective sport as it pertains to changes as a result of COVID-19 (pages 20 through 37). Coaches are expected to follow ALL NYSPHSAA Guidelines for their respective sport.

Hosting

Each head coach needs to make sure to have an administrative contact for all events. If an issue arises, the coach should contact the Director of Athletics or the Building Level administrator. The Athletic Director will communicate ahead of time with the incoming schools and officials about its procedures, policies and guidelines.

Examples to be covered include but not limited to, the following:

  • Parking
  • Where to enter facility
  • What equipment the visiting team should bring
  • Water availability
  • Bench area seating (how many players can be accommodated to maintain social distancing)
  • Locker room availability and resources
  • How will game day paperwork be handled (electronic exchange of rosters between coaches prior to game time is preferred)

Coaches must walk their facility to ensure that it has been properly cleaned and sanitized before the visiting team has arrived, frequently touched surfaces and equipment in particular. Please contact the Director of Athletics if there is an issue regarding your game day facility. Coaches are to remind their players that there are no high-fives, post-contest handshakes, hugs, etc.

Away Games

Student athletes should change prior to departure and have all of their belongings and equipment with them when they leave campus. With the exception of restrooms, visiting students will have no building access at host schools. Student athletes and coaches are expected to follow all of the guidelines and procedures of other member schools upon arrival on their campus.

Travel to and From Away Contests

Student athletes will be transported to away games by their parents/guardian.  The carpooling of athletes to away games is discouraged to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Spectators/Gameworkers

The District will not allow spectators inside any district buildings, including gymnasiums and bowling alleys. To the extent possible, all games and competitions will be live streamed. Spectators will not be allowed to attend Fall 2 high-risk indoor sport contests with the possible exception of senior night activities. If spectators are allowed at senior night, each student athlete will be allowed to have two guests attend the event. A decision regarding allowing spectators for outside sports will be made after receiving guidance from Section 2 and the Colonial Council.

All spectators/gameworkers at contests will complete the COVID-19 Monitoring Form and be temperature checked under the direction of the head coach of each sport. In addition, each spectator/game worker will complete the COVID-19 Event Form which will capture their name, phone number, email address, and county of residence. Should any spectator refuse to list their information for tracing purposes, they will not be allowed to attend the event. All spectators will be required to wear a mask and proper social distancing will be enforced.

The table will be limited to essential personnel, including the home team scorer and timer, with a distance of 6 feet between individuals. Visiting team personnel (scorer, statisticians, etc.) are not deemed essential and may need to find an alternative location. Space availability at the table is a variable in determining the number of individuals permitted at the officials’ table.

Coaches Training

All Coaches will be required to attend a pre-season meeting to review sport specific safety protocols as well as consistent game day procedures. Coaches will complete the NFHS COVID-19 training prior to any competitions being played.

Disinfecting

Frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily, and between uses as much as possible.

Coaches are responsible for disinfecting all balls and other sporting equipment after each game and practice. All disinfecting supplies can be obtained at the athletics’ office.

Congregate Dining

There will be no congregate dining of teams and no overnight travel.

Reporting Concerns or Violations

CCSD has established a phone line and email address where any COVID-19 related questions or concerns can be confidentially reported. This can be done through phone by calling 518-237-0100, ext. 1488 or by emailing highrisksports@cohoes.org.

Supporting Documents

The following documents will be referenced during the return to Interscholastic Athletics:

Approved by CCSD Medical Director 2/8/21

Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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