main content starts here

Fall sports in Bethlehem to include low-risk varsity athletics only

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on September 10, 2020

The Bethlehem Central School District announced today that the return of athletics this fall for BC students will be limited to varsity-level sports classified as “low risk” by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA). The district decision was made after the state announced some high school sports could resume and following several days of meetings regarding the health and safety implications of a return to interscholastic athletics.

Varsity sports taking place at Bethlehem this fall will include cross country, golf, tennis, and swimming and diving. Low-risk athletics and recreation activities are defined by the state Department of Health as those which have:

  • the greatest ability to maintain physical distance and/or be performed individually; and
  • the greatest ability to (1) avoid touching of shared equipment, (2) clean and disinfect any equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all.

“The decision to focus on low-risk play was made with the health and safety of students, staff and the entire Bethlehem school community as our primary considerations,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “We weighed the risks and benefits, reviewed the official guidance, talked to our district physician and determined that this is the most reasonable way to provide opportunities for our student-athletes without jeopardizing the work we are doing to ensure the safe return of teaching and learning to our classrooms.”

BCSD approved sports for fall 2020 (beginning Sept. 21, 2020)

  • Varsity Cross Country (Boys and Girls)
  • Varsity Golf (Boys and Girls)
  • Varsity Girls Tennis
  • Varsity Girls Swimming and Diving

Not approved for fall 2020

  • Boys Soccer (all levels)
  • Girls Soccer (all levels)
  • Field Hockey (all levels)
  • Football (all levels – tentatively rescheduled for spring 2021)
  • Boys Volleyball (all levels – tentatively rescheduled for spring 2021)
  • Girls Volleyball (all levels – tentatively rescheduled for spring 2021)
  • Cheerleading (all levels-tentatively rescheduled for spring 2021 )
  • JV & Modified Cross Country (Boys and Girls)
  • JV & Modified Golf (Boys and Girls)
  • Girls JV Tennis

Sign up information for approved fall sports will be emailed to families on Monday, September 14.

Monroe said because the district’s reopening plan includes no late buses for student activities there will be no bus transportation provided for athletics. Late buses were eliminated to reduce mixing of cohorts of students on buses, where social distancing is difficult. Athletes and/or their families will be required to provide their own transportation to and from practices and any contests requiring travel. Due to this transportation requirement, the fall sports being offered will only be available at the varsity level.

Spectators for the outdoor sports of cross country, golf and tennis will be limited to two per player, with social distancing requirements. Swim meets will be held virtually at the high school pool with no visiting teams and no spectators. Team sizes and the number of competitors for each event will be limited to meet social distancing requirements set by NYSPHSAA.

Superintendent Monroe said NYSPHSAA, which oversees interscholastic sports in New York state, issued guidance on Sept. 4 for those making decisions about a return to school sports. The guidance put forth recommendations on a full spectrum of sports that included the low-risk athletics that focus on individual play and on team sports classified as moderate- and high-risk. The NYSPHSAA guidance was amended five days later to postpone any return of high-risk sports statewide including football, cheerleading and volleyball until the spring.

Sports deemed “moderate risk” by NYSPHSAA — soccer and field hockey — will not be allowed in Bethlehem due to the limited ability to maintain physical distance on the field of play.

“The information on which we have built our reopening plan keeps students at what the health experts have said is a safe distance,” said Superintendent Monroe. “Allowing students to face off on the playing field would contradict every safeguard we have been told must be in place in our classrooms, in our gyms and outdoors.”

For all physical education classes, Monroe said, the district is required by the state Department of Health to maintain at least 12 feet of distance in all directions, both indoors and outdoors, during aerobic activity.

“So many people — students, staff and parents — have put their faith in us to minimize the risk of a return to school,” said Monroe. “A return to low-risk activities is where we are right now. We look forward to being able to make choices for our students down the road without the added weight of our current public health concerns.”