The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) created a COVID-19 Task Force to discuss potential scenarios for the return of sports beginning this fall. The task force released the results of its multiple meetings, laying out the scenarios in order to be prepared for all possibilities.
“These proposals should serve as a ‘starting point’ or ‘framework’ to assist the Task Force in providing guidance and recommendations, if needed,” the report reads. “Until guidance and direction is provided by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Education Department, nothing can be finalized or decided upon by NYSPHSAA. At this time, there is no definitive date for a decision to be made.”
The report assesses each sport and breaks them down into three categories: High Risk, Moderate Risk and Low Risk. Tennis falls into the Moderate Risk category but can be considered Low Risk with “appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants.”
The first scenario is the best-case one, where schools are open for in-person learning which includes athletic participation. There would be no changes, and all sports will be played as scheduled with social distancing restrictions.
The second and third scenarios are if schools are open with a hybrid education (combination of in-person and virtual learning), or if they only provide a virtual education, both with athletic participation, the NYSPHSAA says:
“Depending upon the severity of the social distancing restrictions in place, sports seasons would need to be adjusted. This proposal would allow for low/moderate risk sports to be played at the beginning of the school year, with higher risk sports played towards the end of the 2020-2021 school year.”
An option that NYSPHSAA has laid out to deal with this scenario includes adjusting the season to have a Fall Season I, Fall Season II, Winter Season, Spring Season I and Spring Season II, with both boys’ and girls’ tennis being played in the Fall I season.
The final scenarios deal with the possibility of there being no athletics at the beginning of the school year. In this case, rather than cancelling the fall and winter seasons, the seasons will be realigned into three ten-week seasons starting in January. If this were to happen, both boys’ and girls’ tennis would be played in Season III, from April 5 through June 12.
With each region in the NYSPHSAA being affected differently in terms of COVID-19 cases, there’s a possibility that seasons will be determined on a region-by-region basis, which would mean no statewide competitions and no State Championships. All of these possibilities are contingent on what the Governor decides to do, as well as how schools plan to open back up in the fall.