October 26, 2021

Tompkins OKs high-risk sports

ITHACA — High school athletes in Tompkins County got good news Wednesday when Public Health Director Frank Kruppa approved high-risk sports to restart on Feb. 1.

“Contact sports bring people close together and increase the risk of transmission,” Kruppa said in a statement. “If schools and other organizations, athletes, and their parents/guardians choose to resume higher risk sports, they must do so in a safe manner and give considerable thought to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We must work together during these stressful times to ensure that our youth athletes have the opportunity to participate in athletics safely.”

The Tompkins County Health Department laid out a number of rules for high-risk sports to resume. Most notably, travel for games is restricted to within the Southern Tier and any contiguous sections or regions; a maximum of two spectators per player are allowed to attend games; tournaments for high-risk sports are not allowed; schools and other sports organizations must prepare a COVID safety plan in accordance with the interim guidance and post it on their website and masks must be worn by all coaches, athletes, officials and spectators.

In addition, carpooling is “strongly discouraged,” and practice pods in small sizes without mixing athletes is recommended.

The Tompkins County Health Department will also require health screenings for all employees and “strongly encourage” them for players, patrons, and spectators.

The statement goes on to say that “this approval for higher risk sports may be withdrawn based on an increase in the positivity rate and/or the presence of more transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus.”

The statement identified wrestling, ice hockey and basketball among high-risk sports, all of which are winter sports, as well as outdoor sports such as football and rugby.