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Great Neck district reverses course, will play basketball this season

Noa Fisher of Great Neck South maneuvers around

Noa Fisher of Great Neck South maneuvers around Ava Kornbluth of Wantagh during the Nassau High School girls basketball Class A first round playoff game on Thursday, February 20, 2020 in Wantagh. Credit: Dawn McCormick

The Great Neck school district has reversed its decision to cancel all the high-risk winter sports and will play boys and girls basketball this season.

"We took into consideration the request to re-examine the decision," said Dave Zawatson, the director of athletics for the Great Neck School District. "Those requests were posed to us from many fronts within the school community. The district has decided to modify the recent decision to not participate in the February season for the high-risk sport of basketball."

The district announced last week that it would not play boys and girls basketball, wrestling and competitive cheer.

Basketball players for the two high schools in the district — Great Neck North and South — will be required to do weekly COVID-19 testing and take part in remote instruction, according to a district email announcing the decision. Each student will be responsible for getting tested and submitting the results to the school nurse, the email said.

Earlier Monday, the Manhasset district announced it would require weekly testing and remote instruction. Suffolk County requires weekly testing while Nassau is leaving it up to each district.

"I’d likely say there was an examination of the protocols some other districts put into effect," Zawatson said. "We felt it reflected that same level of concern we have for the well-being of the entire school community."

The school’s locker rooms will not be available, and athletes are expected to report dressed and ready for practice. An athlete will only become eligible to return to hybrid instruction once they leave the team, whether it be at the end of tryouts, in midseason or at the conclusion of the season.

Steve Cronin, whose two sons, Jackson and Luke, play for the Great Neck North varsity, was outspoken when the district canceled.

"It was not right that we were one of the very few districts not playing basketball on Long Island," he said. "There were quite a few disappointed people. This couldn’t have been done without the efforts of students, parents, alumni and the people in the Nassau County government rallying around our boys and girls to play. Thankfully, we have some people who support athletics in our community."

Senior point guard Jackson Cronin, who was accepted at the University of Kansas and is a preferred walk-on for the men’s basketball team, said he was excited about his final season with lifelong friends.

"We’ll get back to our regular schedule and adhere to the safety protocols and that’s fine because we’re playing," he said. "We’ve been waiting for our senior year since kindergarten. We’ve all played together since we were five years old. We have 10 seniors ready to go."

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