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Local superintendents 'caught off guard' by letter asking to delay school sports

Berkeley Brean
Updated: August 27, 2020 06:13 PM
Created: August 27, 2020 04:44 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — School superintendents are faced with hundreds of decisions to open and operate schools safely. 

Here's the latest: should there be high school sports? 

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As News10NBC first reported Wednesday night at 11, the New York State Council of School Superintendents wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo and asked him to delay sports until January. 

Thursday, News10NBC found out a lot of our local superintendents had no idea.  

I contacted 20 school districts.

Of those who replied, six said they did not know this letter about delaying sports was going out and one superintendent told me he was caught off guard.

The letter is dated Wednesday, Aug. 26. 

The State Council of School Superintendents asked Governor Cuomo to "delay... school athletics until January 1."

Monday, the governor said low contact sports like soccer can start in late September. 

He was asked about the letter today. 

"I didn't see a letter so I don't know what you're referring to," Gov. Cuomo said in a conference call Thursday morning. "It's up to the school district. If the superintendent doesn't want to do it then don't do it. That's totally their call."
  
The following superintendents told me they did not know about the letter. 

  • Churchville-Chili.
  • Gates-Chili. 
  • East Irondequoit. 
  • Rush-Henrietta. 
  • Spencerport. 
  • Greece and Canandaigua. 

A few other districts said they had no comment. 

"Like so many kids soccer means everything to him," Gina Jennings said. 

Jennings has twins going into their senior year in Brighton. 

Her son Ben is on the soccer team. 

Brean: "When you learned of the letter sent to the governor asking him to delay sports until January 1st, what did you think?"

Gina Jennings, Brighton parent: "To see this letter at the 11th hour come out asking for it to be delayed after our kids already thought they were going back it just made me angry."

Thursday morning, Jennings emailed Brighton Superintendent Kevin McGowan. McGowan is on the state council's executive committee and in an email reply to Jennings said he signed off on the letter. 

Part of his reply told Jennings "the complications of running a program while managing the complications of reopening under current guidance make offering an athletic program nearly impossible right now."

That's what the letter says to the governor.  

Brean: "The letter says they're concerned that if you have sports it may jeopardize having kids in the classroom. That's their primary concern."

Jennings: "I'm not sure I buy that. Ben has been playing soccer all summer without issue."

The council said it emailed this letter to superintendents at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday. 

The council said it's not unanimous but says the majority of superintendents agree with the letter. 

The governor says the decision is up to the individual districts. 


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