Rome BOE approves high-risk sports; Oriskany submits plan – Rome Sentinel

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A resolution approving high-risk athletics/activities for Rome school district students for the winter season amid COVID-19 considerations was approved Thursday night by the Board of Education at a special meeting.

The board approval meets one of the requirements in county Health Department guidelines issued Wednesday afternoon, district Superintendent Peter C. Blake told the board.

Pending other county requirements including some guideline clarifications, Blake expressed hope that students could resume practices by Monday next week or “maybe tomorrow (Friday) if everything falls into place;” the district on Monday this week had submitted a high-risk winter sports season plan to the county for approval. The district also had begun practices Monday, but following the issuing of the updated county guidelines Wednesday the district postponed the activities.

Among other school sports updates relating to COVID-19 factors, the Oriskany school district said Wednesday it is awaiting a county response on the district’s return-to-play plan for winter sports.

Rome — The high-risk athletics/activities included in the school board’s approval are boys and girls basketball; girls volleyball; boys and girls ice hockey: wrestling; cheer; extra-curricular musical activities; Winterguard color guard program.

The board approval is one of many athletics-related requirements that the school district was not aware of earlier in the week, said Blake. When the district’s practices for the high-risk winter sports started Monday, he said, the only requirement to start practices was to have submitted a plan to the county.

Observing that the county’s updated guidelines came “three days into the season” Wednesday afternoon, Blake said Rome was one of the few districts that was fully practicing. It thus was one of the districts negatively affected, he added.

The district is awaiting guidance regarding some other county requirements, and one of them involves the type of COVID-19 testing needed for coaches, Blake said. If a rapid test is needed, the district has them on-site, he said. If a lengthier “PCR” test is required, it “can still be done” but would be a bit more burdensome, he added.

Blake thanked the board for meeting so quickly to help “keep this moving forward.” The 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday was not announced until about 4 p.m. Thursday, and board President Paul Hagerty said board members agreed to waive a 24-hour notice requirement.

Oriskany — “We have recently submitted a return to play plan to our department of health and are currently waiting on a response,” district Athletic Director Kevin Jones said in a letter Wednesday to parents, students and community members. “If they accept our plan, we may begin ‘high risk sports’ in Oriskany.”

Jones added “until then, the plan is to start “skills and drills’ workouts every day” starting Feb. 8. He said the district encourages all students interested in competitive cheer or basketball to sign up through a link included in his letter.

“We will be offering basketball at all three levels for boys and girls (Modified, JV, and Varsity),” Jones also said. “We will also be following the latest safety guidelines and educating our coaches on how to do our practices effectively and safe at the same time.”

Noting the Center State Conference that includes the district spreads across five counties with each having different percentages of infection rates, Jones said “we have made the decision to play in ‘pods’ in our respective counties.”

For an abbreviated winter season, said Jones, these Center State Conference Schools in Oneida County will be participating in basketball:

Oriskany — Boys and girls Modified, JV, and Varsity;

Adirondack— Boys and girls Varsity;

Remsen — Boys Varsity only;

Holland Patent — Boys and girls Modified, JV, and Varsity;

Clinton — Boys and girls Modified, JV, and Varsity;

Westmoreland — Boys Modified, JV, and Varsity; girls Modified and Varsity;

Waterville — Boys JV and Varsity; girls Varsity only

“There are multiple districts in the area that will not be participating in winter sports or are still on the fence,” added Jones. “Like we had with our fall sports, schools opting out will affect the schedules and who we play against. Our hope is to play the teams listed above at least one game each.”

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