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Manhasset cancels winter sports season amid COVID-19 outbreak

The winter sports season is over at Manhasset.

The winter sports season is over at Manhasset.  Credit: James Escher

Manhasset High School has canceled its winter sports season because of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the school, according to Jim Amen, the school's director of athletics.

So far, 38 students have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Nassau’s health department to recommend the closure, Schools Superintendent Vincent Butera said in a letter Tuesday.

"We had to shut down all of our sports, including moderate and low risk in the district for the remainder of the winter season," Amen said. "And now we don’t know what our fall sports season looks like. We're supposed to start March 1 but because we were shut down for COVID-19 reasons all extracurricular activities are currently suspended."

Amen notified Section VIII, which governs Nassau County’s interscholastic athletics, that the school was placed on a fully remote schedule through Feb. 26 and all extracurricular activities including athletics were suspended.

With the transition from winter to fall sports expected to start March 1, Amen was unsure where the district would be at that time.

"It's out of our control at this point," he said. "We could possibly start fall sports March 1, but if we’re still fully remote because of COVID-19 we won’t be allowed and that’s a Department of Health decision. I confirmed that when you shut down for COVID-19 reasons all extracurricular activities are suspended until we’re cleared to come back. And that would force us to start the fall sports later."

Manhasset schools are on winter recess this week.

In his letter, Butera wrote, "Many of the students who have tested positive have been asymptomatic causing a false sense of security."

Any child who attended a party or gathering, or who was in contact with anyone who did so in the last 10 days, should be tested and quarantined, he said.

Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director for Section VIII, confirmed that Manhasset’s remaining contests for wrestling and boys and girls basketball were canceled.

"It’s unfortunate for the teams at Manhasset that there was a spread from outside the school at a social function which cost them the opportunity to play the last few games in an already short season," Pizzarelli said. "It also affects the teams that they were scheduled to play. Now those schools can try and reschedule against a different opponent but there is very little time left and no flexibility. And we have more snow coming and could lose another day or two for scheduling. It’s just been a difficult lift for everyone this winter season. We’re thankful we got in a handful of games and gave the student-athletes some opportunities."

The Manhasset boys basketball team was in first place after a 3-0 start in Nassau Conference A-III. The team had just beaten Valley Stream North, 75-48, on Monday.

"We had a real good third quarter to win the game but it all seems to be a moot point now," Manhasset coach George Bruns said. "Our district has been doing a very good job with the safety protocols and following the guidelines but how do you control people’s behavior once they walk out of your building? I’ve told my kids to isolate. There’s only so much we can do to protect our players and the rules are the rules."

The Manhasset girls basketball team was in second place with a 2-1 record in Conference A-3. And the wrestling team lost its only dual meet against Long Beach.

"We talk about being safe and in general our athletes have done a pretty good job and our coaches follow the protocols," Amen said. "We’ve been doing a pretty good job on the sports end but it’s what kids do when they’re not involved in a sport and they’re at home on their own."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, speaking at a news conference in Hicksville, did not back down on her decision to resume school sports. "There’s no such thing as zero risk," she said, when asked about the possibility a wrestler’s mask might slip during a match.

"I think it’s incredibly important that school sports continue and that schools stay open as much as they can," she said. "It’s these social events … we know how this virus is spread."

With Joan Gralla

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