Oswego County Health Department issues guidance for youth sports

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Health Department has notified area schools of its new policy for “higher risk” scholastic and organized recreational sports. The department developed the detailed policy in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that “higher risk” youth sports may resume Feb. 1.

Ice hockey, basketball, contact lacrosse, rugby, competitive cheerleading, group dance, volleyball and wrestling are among the sports categorized as higher risk. Each local county health department in New York State is responsible for defining the requirements for permitting these activities. Some area schools have decided not to run wrestling programs this school year.

“The State’s decision to permit higher risk sports and recreation activities does not mean that their risk has changed,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “Any time people are gathered, there is a risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, which can lead to serious medical conditions and even death.”

Huang said student-athletes may participate in organized recreational leagues or K-12 sponsored higher risk school sports in Oswego County, provided these guidelines are met:

  • Sports activities will be placed on pause if the 7-day rolling average of test positivity is more than 8% in the CNY region as found on https://forward.ny.gov/early-warning-monitoring-dashboard.

  • The County Health Department reserves the right to pause all higher risk sports should Oswego County experience a spike in infection rates.

  • School districts and youth sports leagues must follow the New York State “Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” posted at https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/SportsAndRecreationMasterGuidance.pdf.

  • School districts and recreational leagues must submit plans to the County Health Department at healthdepartment@oswegocounty.com.

  • Spectators, including family members, fans, and volunteers not required for the event operation, are prohibited from attending events at this time.  However, schools and leagues should include spectators when they develop their plans, as this decision may change in the future.

  • Car-pooling and overnight travel are discouraged.

  • New York State social distancing and other guidelines should be followed.

  • Each school’s medical director must approve the district or school’s participation in higher-risk sports. The Health Department recommends that the school board of education or board of directors also approve the district or league’s participation in each specific sport.

  • Travel to and from interstate competitions is prohibited.

Huang said the COVID virus may be spread in locker rooms, school buses, and other areas in addition to sports event venues.

“Symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus,” said Huang. “Masking, distancing, and other mitigation measures reduce, but do not eliminate risk. Further, there is significant risk of transmission to those in the home of an infected student-athlete. Ultimately, the decision falls on a parent or guardian to decide whether they will allow their child to participate in a given sport or activity.”

More information is posted at https://health.oswegocounty.com/information/2019_novel_coronavirus/information_for_schools.php and https://health.oswegocounty.com/information/2019_novel_coronavirus/resources.php.

Those with questions may call the Oswego County Health Department COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays  and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekends.

For information about emotional supports, visit the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene at www.oswegocounty.com/mentalhygiene.

New York State provides online links to report violations of health and safety restrictions and requirements for businesses, gatherings and individuals. To file a complaint about a business, location or incident in your community, go to https://mylicense.custhelp.com/app/ask. To file a complaint against your employer or place of work, go to https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/coronavirus-complaints.shtm.

Under New York State Public Health Law, the Oswego County Health Department is the sole local public health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response over all persons and entities within the County of Oswego. The Oswego County Health Department works closely with New York State Department of Health regarding COVID-19 monitoring, response and reporting.