In Nassau and western Suffolk, temperatures hit 92 degrees. With a heat advisory in effect for much of Long Island Thursday, schools had to pivot to keep students safe, NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

Long Island school sports were back in action Thursday evening one day after the excessive heat forced the postponement of games and practices.

In Suffolk, the full heat alert was in effect until 6 p.m. on Thursday, but after temperatures dropped it was changed to a modified heat alert and games and practices could resume, according to Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, which governs Suffolk’s scholastic sports.

“We continued to monitor the weather situation and the excessive heat all day,” Combs said. “We found that the heat index dropped into acceptable levels to allow our student-athletes to play. We still have a modified heat alert for the remainder of the night with mandatory water breaks every 15-20 minutes.”

Nassau advised schools early Thursday that they could play as long as they followed the state's guidelines, which say that sports should be postponed if the heat index is 96 or higher. Suffolk's procedures require sports to be called off if the heat index is 95 or higher.

“We only had a handful of games postponed,” said Pat Pizzarelli, executive director of Section VIII, which governs Nassau school athletics. “We recommended to push start times back a bit and everything scheduled went off well. We had mandatory water breaks and rest periods. Our officials, coaches, trainers did a great job.”

The heat index was 97 at 2:53 p.m. at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, according to the National Weather Service. By 5:53 p.m., it dropped to 90, which would allow teams to play. It was 88 at Islip Airport in Suffolk at that same time. The heat index is determined by the outside temperature and the relative humidity.

"We started practice at 6 [p.m.] and the weather had cooled down quite a bit," said Malverne football coach Kito Lockwood. "We went through our walk-through for [Friday's] opener and we were in helmets only.

"We missed practice [Wednesday] because of the heat, and we were checking every hour [Thursday] to see when it was safe to go out on the field. At 5 p.m. we still couldn't come out because the heat was still a factor."

Combs said Suffolk postponed 117 contests on Wednesday.

Pizzarelli confirmed the postponement of 73 contests on Wednesday. 
Combs said that safety committee chairperson Tim Mullins, the director of athletics for Bayport-Blue Point schools, monitors the temperature every two hours throughout the day starting at 6 a.m.

“The heat index dictates the safety protocols,” Combs said. “The safety of the student-athletes, officials, coaches and our fans are the number one priority.”

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