LATHAM — High school athletic facilities throughout the state cannot open for student participation until Phase 4 of the state's reopening process is reached, it was stated on Wednesday by Paul Harrica, president and task force chairman of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

The NYSPHSAA held its first meeting of its COVID-19 Task Force on Wednesday. The Task Force is comprised of school district superintendents, high school principals, athletic directors, NYSPHSAA officers, as well as a representative from the New York State Athletic Administrators Association, an athletic trainer, a district transportation director and members of New York State Education Department and New York State Department of Health.

According to a press release issued by Chris Watson, NYSPHSAA director of communications, the Task Force heard reports and updates from the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the New York State Education Department and the New York State Health Department pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact it has had upon education and the reopening of schools.

“Having representatives from these offices provide reports today was extremely beneficial to the work that the Task Force will do over the course of the next few months,” Harrica said.

“From the reports provided, it is clear school district facilities cannot be opened for student participation until Phase 4 is entered. The health and safety of our student-athletes remains our top priority.”

On Friday, the Task Force will release guidance pertaining to on-campus summer conditioning workouts as well as an update to its Frequently Asked Questions document that NYSPHSAA released on May 7th.

School districts are encouraged to get acclimated with CDC and local health department guidance as well Governor Cuomo's restrictions, local laws and policies.

The Task Force also discussed and examined the result of a COVID-19 survey, distributed by NYSPHSAA, to gather a statewide perspective on the impacts and potential response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Roughly 6,000 athletic directors, administrators, and coaches responsed to the survey. Results can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SlAuRLpy1EwTY0baMFKVNBtzN4xrW1uF/view?usp=sharing.

Wednesday's meeting was just the first step in addressing concerns and examining readily available information related to the COVID-19 crisis, said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director.

“We are all focused on providing student-athletes with the opportunity to participate this fall with guidance from the Department of Health and in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s restrictions,” Dr. Zayas said. 

The next meeting of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force will take place at the end of this month with a date and time to be announced next week.

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