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Gov. Cuomo: Guidance on high school sports will come next week

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers a COVID-19 update

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers a COVID-19 update in New York City on Monday. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo/Kevin P. Coughlin

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that guidance for the upcoming high school sports season will come next week. Cuomo did not provide any specifics, but the news came as a relief for many high school sports officials who have been eager for direction from the state.

“The news coming out of the governor's office is perceived as a positive step in the right direction,” said Robert Zayas, the executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. “We look forward to his guidance and what it means for athletics this fall. We have planned continued discussions to ensure student-athlete safety is paramount.”

Cuomo announced on Aug. 7 that schools could open in the fall because of the low coronavirus infection rates across the state. He did not provide any information on the return of high school sports, which led to frustration among local officials.

The spring sports season was canceled in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the New York State coronavirus task force was established to help plan for the safe return of high school sports. In July, the task force announced that the start of fall season would be pushed back to Sept. 21 from Aug. 24.

Tom Combs, executive director of Section XI, which governs Suffolk County high school athletics, said his hope is that the governor allows coaches to start training and practicing with the athletes as soon as possible.

“We have board of education approved certified coaches out there waiting on the governor's word on when they can get back to work with our student-athletes,” Combs said. “Our athletes will need to be physically prepared to start as well as mentally ready to go. If we can get that clock started now – that would be uplifting for everyone and a good sign of things to come.”

A meeting of all the state’s executive directors is planned for Monday to prepare recommendations for the governor.

“We were going to put together our recommendations from each section on how we can get started safely,” Combs said. “We were hoping to help him make a decision to allow the athletes back on the field prior to Sept. 21.”

Zayas, who will oversee the meeting, said there are obstacles that can be overcome.

“It’s been a challenging time for our student-athletes,” Zayas said. “Our governor said he is going to address the situation soon.”

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