Long Island schools and athletes prepare to resume sports

Jennifer Galvin said she is relieved. Her son Liam, a football and lacrosse player for Rockville Centre, is able to take the field once again after missing an entire year of school sports because of coronavirus.

"My concern is all children," she said. "Here we are almost a year later. What are we doing to these kids emotionally, socially and psychologically?"

Late last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave New York schools the green light for high-risk sports — including football, lacrosse, wrestling, and basketball — to begin practice and play on Feb. 1. It's welcome news for many seniors we spoke with who were hoping to return to some sort of normalcy before graduation.

"Us 2021 seniors lost so much," Caroline Brucato said.

The seasons will look a little different and much shorter this year but the pros to playing at this point outweigh the negatives, according to officials.

"Right now the number of cases are dropping," Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said. "We understand there's a benefit to athletics."

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The state came out with guidelines including no more than 50% occupancy at indoor sporting events, no more than two spectators per player, mask-wearing and social distancing when possible, proper sanitizing and health screening. But any added measures are ultimately up to the county and individual school districts.

"Done right, done well, kids need to be out and kids need to play," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. 

Nassau County is sticking to the state guidance, she added. 

However, Suffolk County will require school nurses to administer mandatory weekly COVID-19 tests to student-athletes and coaches involved in high-risk sports. Suffolk County is also not allowing spectators and will require all players to sign a pledge committing to follow protocols on and off the fields and courts in order to keep themselves and others around them safe.