I’ve been the Weedsport superintendent for many years, and while I am an administrator, I consider myself a father first. I think being the father of three boys has helped my decision making as I tend to initially look at things through the lens of being a parent.
My youngest son is a senior at Weedsport, and this month he’ll begin his last season on the basketball team. Winter sports has been in the news lately as many districts have weighed the possibility of playing or not. I know there are families in our district who think we should be participating and those who think we shouldn’t.
Believe me, I understand both sides. Since the pandemic began, our goal at Weedsport has been to create the safest environment possible for our students and staff.
So, how did we arrive at a decision play winter sports?
Weedsport participated in low-risk sports during the fall and looking back, we consider that a success. We now have five months of transmission data to look at, and we’ve found very little transmission of COVID at school. Regional research also shows that COVID transmissions are very rare in school districts. And another positive factor is the availability of COVID vaccines. We’ve had many staff members vaccinated and many more are still scheduled.
When the Governor gave school districts the green light to play sports, we immediately consulted with the Cayuga County Health Department, who also gave us the approval – but with stipulations.
We now have many health and safety protocols put in place for indoor sporting events which includes mask wearing, hand sanitizing, spacing out seating during games, limiting the number of people inside, and more.
I firmly believe you can never have too many protocols in place, but if we do have a COVID outbreak and cases begin to rise, we will cancel winter sports.
It’s been one of my dreams to watch my youngest son play ball his senior season and I still look forward to it each day. But for as much as that means to me, the health and safety of our school community – which includes my son – comes first.
-Superintendent Shaun O’Connor