The Section I Executive Committee announced on Nov. 20 that low- and moderate-risk sports scheduled for the winter season will commence practice on Jan. 4.

Bowling, fencing, gymnastics, boys’ swimming, and indoor track and field are considered low- and moderate-risk sports by the state Department of Health. Originally, they were to begin practicing on Nov. 30, which was already a two-week delay from the original pre-pandemic start date of Nov. 16.

The Executive Committee’s decision was reached after a discussion regarding the feasibility of the Nov. 30 start given the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases. The committee also took into consideration information submitted by athletic directors and district superintendents from Section I’s 82-member schools.

In addition, a number of schools indicated they may opt for virtual teaching rather than in-person instruction from the Thanksgiving recess through the Christmas break. Jan. 4 is scheduled to be the first day back for schools after the holiday recess.

In a press release, the Executive Committee cited “evidence of a clear desire on the part of Section I member schools to delay the start of low- and moderate-risk winter sports.”

Those sports now share a start date in Section I with the high-risk winter sports of basketball, ice hockey, wrestling, and competitive cheerleading, which on Nov. 16 had their start dates pushed back to Jan. 4 by the New York State Public High School Association.

The Executive Committee also stated that “based on their individual needs, a district may choose to be more restrictive and further delay the start of the season. In addition, the Section I Executive Committee respects that individual districts are faced with a wide range of challenges which may impact their ability to offer programs.”

“The success of fall season I has been made possible by the support of individual school district superintendents and boards of education,” Section I executive director Todd Santabarbara said. “The hard work, commitment to minimizing risk, and the determination of athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes through Section I have been instrumental.”

He continued, “Today’s [Nov. 20] decision affords school districts additional time to effectively transition and plan for the start of a winter season in a safe and responsible manner.”

If the winter season kicks off on Jan. 4, it will likely run until March 13, that end date overlapping with the fall II season that will feature the sports of football, volleyball, and girls’ swimming and diving which would run from March 1 to May 1.

The traditional spring season, which includes baseball, softball, lacrosse, golf, and outdoor track and field would then round out the school sports year from April 19 to June 12.

The spring season also has an overlap of nearly two weeks with the fall II season.

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