January 27, 2021
CANISTEO, NY – From Canisteo-Greenwood Superintendent Tom Crook:
Good morning, As you may have heard last night, the county has given us the green light to begin high-risk sports starting February 1st; with athletes required to wear masks and no spectators. I wanted to address the two criteria so you, as a community, know the reasoning behind them. MASKING – this one was easy for us and a non-negotiable. We require to have our students masked throughout the school day and it is extremely hypocritical to say during sports “wear masks as tolerated”.
As I stated earlier this year, our job is to keep schools open safely and if we can provide more for our kids to participate in, I am all for it. But we must be smart about it. As we witnessed in the fall, our athletes wore masks and they were fine. Sure, they fell down once in awhile due to physical movement but the intent of the rule was always followed and our kids did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, there will be other leagues in the Section that are going to use the lose wording of “wear masks as tolerated” and not require masks for their athletes. I do not want to speculate to the reasons why they feel they cannot tell their athletes to wear a mask, but I struggle with the messaging of masking all day in school and then after 3 pm say “if you cannot tolerate it, that’s ok. Just take it off”.
NO SPECTATORS – This one took a little while to talk through with the county. We understand that parents want to watch their children participate. Because fall sports were outside, it was a little bit easier to manage. With the winter sports being inside, everything changes. Now we have everyone in one space for more than an hour at a time. What that means is that if anyone tests positive in the gymnasium, ALL individuals would qualify for quarantine (athletes, coaches, officials, scorekeepers AND spectators).
So what this boils down to is that our spectators would be at risk of a 10-day quarantine and/or exposure. How many of our parents want to be off work for 10 days? The other part of the logic is that if any one of the spectators tested positive, then everyone in the gymnasium would have to quarantine. By not having spectators, we lessen the risk of exposure for all involved. The season is going to be very short and we would not want to lose 2 weeks of competition due to a positive spectator, which is something we have control over.
I know this is an unpopular decision, but weighing everything out it provides the best opportunity for our students to have a full season and protects the integrity of our safety plan to keep school open. Having the state allow high-risk sports is a big deal. I honestly did not think that it was going to happen and was hanging on to a sliver of hope for our kids. Every day that went by after January 4th (original start date for high-risk sports),the chances were dwindling. NY was one of only 4 states that was not allowing high-risk sports.
It is a gift to our students to be able to participate and we must make sure that they remain safe and have a memorable experience. The county did allow some autonomy to do something for senior night. We will be working out a plan to honor our senior athletes and their parents. Details forthcoming. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out. I am always willing to have a conversation about any decisions that are made. Yours in service, Thomas J. Crook Superintendent