Fall sports set to begin Monday – Times Union

Burnt Hills’ Callie Chevalier bumps the ball during a match in March. Volleyball players might have to wear masks this season, Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp said.
The start of the 2021-22 scholastic year for high school sports in Section II is scheduled to begin Monday. Even though the state Education Department released guidelines last week regarding the return to school following closely the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp said plans are set to move ahead.
“There are superintendent and BOCES groups, and whatever other groups are out there, that are meeting every day, but I am not aware of any changes that have come my way yet,”  Dopp said Tuesday. “Our position as a section is still we plan on going forward. The only restriction, or mandate, that I am aware of is you have wear a mask when on a school bus. I am sure there will be some school districts that will have more restrictive protocols in place — whether that is masks or not, spectators or not  — and we will certainly honor that.”
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly altered the high school sports landscape throughout the state, including the cancellation of the 2020 spring season and modifications made throughout the entirety of the 2020-21 scholastic year. Those changes included the development of a Fall Season II that allowed sports such as football and volleyball postponed during the fall to be contested during the winter and spring.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association had to follow edicts made by the New York State Department of Health throughout the scholastic year. The DOH has not issued any yet for the 2021-22 year.
“Everything out there right now are recommendations or suggestions from the CDC,” Dopp said. “There is even a lot of confusion regarding right now over talk that some are calling significant positivity zones. They mention high-risk sports. I am very confused by that. I have spoken to Robert (Zayas, the executive eirector of NYSPHSAA) because my understanding is as of last April, the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) did away with their categories for sports. As of June 30, with the New York State DOH had all of that stuff expire.”
When asked last week about the guidelines released last week by the Education Department, Zayas said, “These are just recommendations at this point in time. School districts are going to work with their departments of health.”
Local health departments helped determine when winter sports and Fall Season II activities could begin during the 2020-21 scholastic year. It appears the state DOH will not be providing any directives regarding the status of the 2021-22 year, so individual school districts likely will determine what steps their athletic programs take.
Dopp did say he believes some schools may require volleyball players to once again wear face masks in order to compete.
“Other than that, everything appears ready to begin Monday,” Dopp said.
James Allen has covered Section II athletics since 1989. He also works as a broadcaster for local radio and television outlets. He joined the Times Union in 2006. He covers high school sports. Contact him at [email protected] or 518-454-5062.