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Johnstown approves football, volleyball

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education Tuesday night approved the playing of varsity football and volleyball.

The action was in the form of two resolutions both approved 7-2 during what board President Christopher Tallon called an “emergency” special meeting that was livestreamed. The two no votes were cast by Tallon and board member Beverly Alves.

Action by the board was time-sensitive because they were approving two “higher risk fall Season II sports” effective March 7. The Johnstown board took previous similar action approving varsity basketball.

Resolutions approved Tuesday night indicated that the district is in compliance with state and Fulton County Public Health Department guidelines.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Health Department authorized schools to operate certain higher-risk sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective Feb. 1.

The DOH also issued guidelines. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has also issued revised guidelines more germaine to the COVID situation.

Board member Ronald Beck asked about soccer and field hockey.

“Those are medium risk and those may not carry the same requirements as the higher risk,” said Superintendent William Crankshaw.

Crankshaw said this action by the board merely allows the district “intention” and himself to approve the higher risk sports, which can also be curtailed. He said the COVID positivity rate in Fulton County earlier this week was 3.8 percent.

“I would just stay tuned for any any developments,” he said.

Currently, he said at least two Fulton County districts — the Gloversville Enlarged School District and Broadalbin-Perth Central School District — are okay to participate in football.

Tallon said his position is that he is personally “thrilled” higher-risk sports are now being allowed.

But he said he will vote no on this type of activity if the most important aspect of education — getting kids in classrooms — isn’t further sanctioned by the state.

“We still have a ways to go,” Tallon said.

Until the district can offer more academic opportunities, he said it is “counterproductive” to offer higher-risk sports. He also voted no on the previous basketball resolution.

“This is just a tool they’re [state] using to silence people,” Tallon said.

Alves said she is “nervous” at this time about allowing such sports during the pandemic.

“I want to make sure people are safe,” she said.

Board Vice President Kathryn Zajicek said such athletics should be up to parents and students, who seem to support it.

Board member Susanne Fitzgerald was okay with “any opportunities” offered during the pandemic.

“Whatever we can take advantage of, I want to do,” she said.

Patrick Oare said at least the students are “doing something” outside the classroom.

“I know these are different times for many,” said fellow board member Joyel Richardson.

But she added, “It’s a start in the right direction.”

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