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Start date for higher-risk high school winter sports pushed back due to the pandemic

The start date for some winter high school sports in New York state has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement on Tuesday from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association says that the start date for high-risk sports such as basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling, will be moved to Jan. 4.

Low- and moderate-risk winter sports, like bowling, gymnastics, indoor track and field, skiing, swimming and diving are still on schedule to begin on Nov. 30 for schools and sections that have determined that it’s feasible to host interscholastic athletics at that time.

The president of the association, Julie Bergman, said, “While it is certainly the goal of the Association to provide all students with the ability to participate in interscholastic athletics, we must remain steadfast in our decisions to ensure the safety of our athletes is our focus.”

The association also says that, at this time, all winter state championship events remain as scheduled.

Meantime, RIT has reconsidered its decision to cancel 2020-21 play for its NCAA Division I men's and women's hockey programs.

Last week, RIT canceled winter sports competitions due to the ongoing health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. The announcement came after the Liberty League canceled all Divisions III winter sports competitions and championships. The RIT's men's and women's ice hockey teams, however, play at the Division I level, with the men playing in the Atlantic Hockey Association and the women competing in College Hockey America.

Both the Atlantic Hockey Association and College Hockey America have recently submitted their return-to-play safety plans to New York state for approval.
"In view of this new development, we plan to move forward with college hockey competition, contingent upon New York State consent," said RIT President David Munson. "While we remain concerned about the increase in COVID-19, we also realize that the RIT campus will be only lightly populated from Thanksgiving through late January, providing a period where play will be safer."
A statement from RIT says that to date, no university players or coaches have tested positive for the virus for either the men or women's team. The teams will be tested three times per week during the season in accordance with NCAA guidance.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.