NY schools prep for fall sports but COVID could change things

When the New York State Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools, it also recommended that high-risk fall contact sports, such as football or volleyball, in high-transmission areas should be canceled or held virtually.

"There's a pep in their step. They're excited to come back to Fordham Prep," said Fordham Prep head football coach Patrick Deane, who said his players were energized practicing with one another this summer in anticipation for the fall season.

"They were excited to see each other. They're excited to get back on the field," he added. "And that's just in my little small world. I'm sure this is around the country."

Deane said he is waiting on guidance from his administrators concerning the Education Department's recommendations for fall sports.

"If they tell us we have to wear a mask in the locker room, we'll wear masks in the locker room," Deane said. "If they tell us we have to wear them on the fields, when you're not in the contact drill or not actually starting or in a play, then you've got to do it."

Unvaccinated students will have to show a negative COVID-19 test at least twice a month, the school's principal told Deane. The coach said that 160 boys are signed up to play for the Rams, including his son Pat Deane Jr., an incoming freshman. They'll be back to work on Thursday, Aug. 19.

"The boys will be in, they're going to get their equipment, their lockers and we start our practices up," Deane said. "I already have my full schedule. I have scrimmages set up, that's all three levels." 

Deane's daughter Riley, a junior volleyball player at Holy Child, is also gearing up for her season.

"My two kids are vaccinated and my wife's vaccinated. I'm vaccinated," Deane said. "I think it gives us peace of mind."

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app | Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters | Get the Fox 5 Weather App

In late July, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association said there would be no COVID restrictions for fall sports. When reached for comment by FOX 5 NY, the NYSPHSAA stressed the Education Department's guidelines are suggested recommendations and not mandates.

"We will encourage our member schools to work closely with local health officials to determine how interscholastic athletics should be administrated as situations can vary throughout communities and the state," the NYSPHSAA said.

In a statement to FOX NY, the state DOE said it will review the state's guidance and release updates soon. For now, teams must follow the safety measures currently in place for this past spring and summer, adding those participating in fall sports should get vaccinated if they are eligible to do so.

Furthermore, fans will be permitted at outdoor sporting events but not indoors, in accordance with DOE health and safety protocols.