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OCSD Board to meet Friday for further athletics discussion

The Oswego City School District Board of Education will meet again virtually on Friday at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the possibility of moving forward with the four fall sports allowed under Section III guidelines.

The Board met for approximately three hours during its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, and a majority vote decided on the need for extra time to ensure that the extra costs those sports would incur due to new regulations can be met budgetarily, and all possible options are considered.

Superintendent Dr. Mathis Calvin III gave a thorough report that included all the new sporting rule changes plus health and safety regulations and transportation needs associated with returning the four sports – soccer, boys golf, cross country and girls tennis. The sign-up portal for all of those sports is now open to start registration for if the board approves these sports.

“We want to be clear, we all understand the importance of athletics to our students, parents and the community as a whole. My feeling is athletics prepares students for their future, teaches collaboration and teamwork, elevates academics and expands leadership,” Dr. Calvin told the board.

The Board echoed Dr. Calvin’s sentiment, noting the social-emotional aspect sports provide, which  would be a big boost to a year that already looks different for students.

District officials have been reviewing guidance from the state and Section III regarding guidelines and recommendations for athletics, which has been coming in regularly. Dr. Calvin noted that some guidance came in Friday and just prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the district learned girls swimming would be moved to the spring season along with previously announced football, cheerleading and volleyball.

Dr. Calvin addressed the new health and safety protocols, the needed transportation piece, the importance of equity and access to the opportunities OCSD offers and additional costs to implement everything needed.

The NYS Department of Health guidance states six feet must always be maintained between athletes unless safety or the sport requires a shorter distance. If a shorter distance is required, individuals must wear acceptable face covering unless players are unable to tolerate one for the physical activity, provided that coaches, trainers and all others are wearing a covering.

Spectators, which regulations say should be capped at two per player, must maintain six feet of distance from other households and wear face coverings when in common areas and situations where six feet of distancing can’t be maintained.

Each sport also has specific guidelines and rule-changes to help ensure the maximum safety possible. Sanitation stations with running water are needed per the guidelines, and staff will be needed to take temperatures, sanitizing, extra bus runs and security.

Dr. Calvin stressed the importance of having a transportation option via bus to ensure all who would like to play or try out for a sport are able to do so.

“We need to make sure this opportunity is accessible to everyone regardless of their current transportation,” said Dr. Calvin, noting many parents may not be available before the workday ends to bring their students to practice.

Dr. Calvin then spoke to projected costs and informed the Board that all four sports would yield a total estimated additional cost of approximately $149,558 between transportation, staffing, added services, markings, signage and more.

After some discussion, a majority of the Board agreed more time was needed to look at where the extra funding would come from and explore any other alternatives.
A recording of Tuesday’s meeting can be located on the WBUC YouTube and Dr. Calvin’s report presentation can be viewed on Board Docs.

Friday’s meeting will be streamed live at beginning at 3:30 p.m.
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