A Message from the Superintendent: Athletics & the Arts

As you may know, Governor Andrew Cuomo previously had announced that higher-risk winter sports could begin on Feb. 1, with the approval of local health departments.

Last week, the Albany County Department of Health announced that higher-risk winter sports will not begin on Feb. 1 due to the current COVID infection rate in the county. In a list of guidelines released by the DOH, one key metric reads “the 7-day rolling average percent positivity in the county, as calculated by NYSDOH, must be at or below 4 percent.” As of today, the 7-day rolling average for Albany County was at 5.5 percent. View the complete guidance document from the DOH

While we wait for the county’s rolling average to decrease, we plan to address the other aspects of the health department’s guidance. This includes a requirement to create sport-specific safety plans, get approval for each sport from our medical personnel and our Board of Education, and gather signed consent from parents/guardians of student athletes in order to participate.

We recognize that for many students the delay to the winter high school sports season is disappointing. That said, our local public health agencies are the experts, and we fully support the decision they have made relative to protecting the health and safety of our communities.

As a former track & field coach, I understand the benefits of sports on academics, as well as physical and mental health. With that in mind, we are exploring what steps can be taken to reduce risk and offer some opportunities for our students to be active, train and prepare to compete if or when interscholastic sports are allowed to resume. Athletic Coordinator Dave Wareing has developed a survey for students to gauge interest levels and also is planning to connect virtually with parents this week to answer questions and gather feedback to determine next steps for safely and appropriately moving forward. Information about the meeting will be sent to parents/guardians via One Call Now email.

Participation in extracurricular activities, such as drama club and band, contribute to an overall positive school experience. We also intend to explore what we can do, with appropriate health and safety measures in place, to be able to offer some degree of performing arts, which have been greatly missed in our schools this year. We will provide updates on this as we gather more information.

We remain committed to making the best decisions and prioritizing the health and safety of all, while keeping the best interest of students in mind.

Please reach out if you have any questions.

Dr. Lori Caplan
Superintendent of Schools