Jefferson County: high-risk school sports can begin February 22 if...

Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 5:45 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson County is revising its guidelines for high-risk school sports. If the county’s COVID positivity rate is below 6 percent, competitive play can begin on February 22, which coincides with the end of schools’ winter break.

The county said the decision was made because the number of new cases daily has come down significantly from the post-holiday period and continues moving in the right direction.

“Our positivity rate on a 14-day rolling average was 9.4 percent when the governor announced on January 22, 2021 that high-risk sports could proceed and today our current positivity rate is 6 percent and improving daily,” said Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray. “What we’ve done is 6 percent is the new number. It was 4 percent. So right now if our positivity rate drops below 6 percent, we will start sports on February 22.”

The county also said the rate of transmission is trending downward.

“All the indicators show our community is moving in the right direction and permitting sports is a responsible and safe decision,” said Gray.

Thursday’s news was welcomed by student athletes and school officials.

“Our coach was real excited because he thought it was pretty doubtful we were going to have a season. He was throwing a lot of texts out there ready to get started,” said General Brown sophomore Tucker Rosbrook, whose online petition to get winter sports playing again got hundreds of signatures just weeks ago.

“It’s giving them the opportunity to play more games. Nothing has been scheduled as far as our games go. So I know our coaches were looking to play just a 4-game season, but now we may be able to play 6 or 7 so everyone is really happy about that,” said Watertown Athletic Director George Emrich.

The state guidance for high risk sports is still applicable as is additional guidance from the Jefferson County Public Health, which includes: sports of any nature, competition or practice will cease if a school is 100 percent remote, face coverings are still applicable and spectators are not permitted at indoor sporting events.

Additionally, schools have the ultimate authority to implement more restrictive measures should they choose.

The county emphasized the public “must continue to remain vigilant in our community by wearing face coverings, practice social distancing and avoiding large gatherings because following these protocols is what is necessary to allow sports and other activities to proceed.”

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