Community Update 1/30/21

Red Raider Community:

I’m writing to provide a real time update regarding the start of high risk sports within our district. Before going into greater detail, I want to first share that our number one priority and focus of district administration is the resumption of in person and hybrid learning. To that end, I am hosting a meeting Monday morning of all district operations directors, executive team members representing both unions (MTA & CSEA) and a representative from Saratoga County Department of Health. The purpose of this meeting is to conduct a mid-year review of our school reopening plan presented to the public last July.

On Wednesday, February 3, at my regular monthly Coffee Chat I will present any updates of that plan as well as specific actions to resume in person and hybrid learning when we return to school following the February break. If you are unable to attend we will not only post the recording, but there will be a full written report of our return plans posted on all district platforms.

On January 22 Governor Cuomo announced that high risk sports may resume effective February 1, with local county department of health approval. Yesterday, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors held a press conference announcing that they approve the start of high risk sports with several conditions:

The minimum district specific requirements include:
Each school district’s Board of Education must approve the school’s participation in each specific higher-risk sport.
Each school superintendent must oversee the creation of a sport specific preparedness plan, to be approved by the district’s medical director.
Each parent/guardian must sign an informed consent.
Each student-athlete must have medical clearance from their healthcare provider.
Each parent/guardian, student-athlete, and school official must agree to fully cooperate with case investigations and contact eilicitation and to adhere to isolation and quarantine orders.
Each district must establish a confidential phone number and email address to allow student-athletes, parents, or others to report concerns.

There are a variety of community health metrics to be applied prior to starting up high risk sport contact activities. The most identifiable of those measures at this point is having less than a 4% 7-day rolling average positivity rate in Saratoga County. A statistic which very recently seemed unattainable is now very well within reach.

Athletic Director, Tom Berrigan is working very closely with each of our coaches to develop sport specific plans. The Wasaren League has been meeting throughout this past week in preparation for clearance. Initial plans have been created for basketball and cheerleading. There is further research and investigation regarding wrestling that is being looked into. All of this information will be shared with our Board of Education at our regularly scheduled meeting this Thursday, February 4.

We believe our timeline is consistent with Saratoga County’s, as they are meeting as a Board of Supervisors on Thursday as well to finalize specific metrics and have requested a variety of information from all schools within the county in preparation for their meeting.

The new schedule for winter sports created by Section 2 has extended the deadline for play to March 13. They have moved the start date of Fall 2 to March 7, and the start of spring sports to May 3. I certainly cannot predict the future, but if we are successful implementing these protocols for winter high risk sports I feel exceedingly confident that Fall 2 and Spring will be held without issue.

As of this writing, the Wasaren League was focusing winter sports schedules on JV and Varsity competition with each school committing to having modified opportunities once the upper levels began successful play. If schedules, gym space and timing worked out there would possibly be the opportunity for some games between schools at the modified level.

Creating extra-curricular opportunities for our students is incredibly important to not only making memories, but critical to their social and emotional health. Mr. Mitchell and his staff will continue to look at opportunities for all students to be engaged in school beyond the classroom.

This has been an incredibly long road and particularly hard path for all school community members. No one rallies like Mechanicville and I know we will continue to rally for each other. Please continue to be vigilant, stay safe, and we will get through this together as #OneMechanicville!

My best,