Port athletics discusses COVID-19 precautions before school board

Rose Weldon
Nick Schratwieser, assistant director of health, physical education and athletics programs for the Port Washington school district, discusses the precautions being taken by the athletics department against COVID-19 spread in a presentation at Tuesday's school board meeting. (Screencap by Rose Weldon)

Leaders in the Port Washington school district’s athletics department discussed the future of physical education and interscholastic sports before the district’s school board at its meeting on Tuesday night via Google Duo, broadcast on YouTube.

District Athletic Director Stephanie Joannon and newly hired Assistant Director Nick Schratwieser were present at the meeting to show the board how their department was faring as the COVID-10 pandemic wears on.

“We just kind of went through the different levels throughout the district, and we’re going to tell you a little bit about what we’re doing,” Schratwieser said at the outset of the presentation.

Schratwieser began by discussing the steps taken to protect students in physical education classes.

“Our P.E. classes this year are defaulting to our outdoor spaces and that’s happening for two reasons,” he said. “One is because we are using many of our gyms for academic purposes, and the second is we’re all aware that being outside in open air is much safer for the teachers and for the students.”

He said that ground crews at each elementary school had placed grids outdoors to better mark for the 12 feet of social distancing required by the state of New York for physical activity.

The department also planned lessons for the district’s virtual-only students.

“We’re preparing right now to teach our fully virtual students which will happen beginning on the 19th of this month,” Schratwieser said. “We’ve had several meetings to prepare for that population we’re really excited to get started.”

At Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, Schratwieser said, up to three classes at a time can be socially distanced on the school’s fields and virtual students there will receive similar lessons. But the biggest physical education development will come to students at Schreiber High School.

“Beginning next week, we’re going to be livestreaming all of our physical education classes to the students that are at home, so that when you’re a student in school, you’re getting really high-quality phys ed, you’re active and you’re engaged, but when you’re at home it’s the same thing,” Schratwieser said.

Joannon then discussed how interscholastic athletics would be handled in 2021.

“It’s been seven more months since our student-athletes have been on the field, and our coaches have been on the field,” Joannon said. “So I’m happy to announce right now that Nassau County has a plan to start up sports in 2021.”

She added that the three typical high school sports seasons would be condensed, with each ranging from 45 to 47 days.

The winter season, comprising basketball, men’s swimming and diving, bowling, competitive cheerleading, indoor track, wrestling, gymnastics and dance/kickline team, would last from Monday, Jan. 4, to Friday, Feb. 26.

The fall season, comprising football, soccer, girls’ tennis, cross country running, volleyball, sideline cheerleading, dance/kickline team, field hockey, and girls’ swimming and diving, would last from Monday, March 1, to Wednesday, April 21.

Finally, the spring season, comprising lacrosse, baseball, softball, boys’ tennis, track and field, girls’ badminton, and boys’ golf, would last from Thursday, April 22, to Monday, June 14.

“If by chance the state decides, like they did last year, to not have Regents exams, then we’re going to extend the spring season to June 19 to give those athletes more of an experience something they didn’t have last year, and possibly end in a state championship,” Joannon said.

She added that student-athletes who had not received a physical in 12 months would be required to get one before the end of the calendar year, with Dec. 18 being the last day to send in such information for all seasons.

“High school sports still need more planning,” Joannon said. “Reopening sports is going to be a lot of work and we want to do it the right way.”

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Rose Weldon

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