Lake Placid Central OKs varsity basketball, hockey

Lake Placid’s Chelsea Moore looks toward the basket while Alyssa Summo defends for Keene during a game in January 2020. (News photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Members of the Lake Placid Central School Board of Education Tuesday, Feb. 16 approved a shortened season of two “higher-risk” sports — girls and boys varsity hockey and basketball — during a regular board meeting.

The decision came after the Essex County Health Department on Jan. 28 authorized the resumption of higher-risk sports for schools in the county. Examples of higher-risk sports are ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, contact lacrosse, football, wrestling and rugby.

The vote was 5 to 1, with board members Rick Preston, Dan Cash, Dan Marvin, Martha Spear and Joan Hallett Valentine voting yes. Bryan “Liam” Kennelly cast the lone no vote, and Colleen Locke was absent. The decision was for the varsity level only.

“I think that it would be really wonderful if we could give the students access to these (sports),” Spear said. “I’d love to see the students get their athletics in, starting now.”

During the discussion, Cash asked LPCSD Athletic Director John Burdick about his comfort level in having students take part in higher-risk sports.

“I think they’ve made it just about as risk-free as possible by just eliminating so many people that will be in the venue,” Burdick said. “There’s going to be challenges still. I think keeping masks on players in an agressive basketball game. There’s going to be some risks, but I think you can minimize those quite a bit.”

Among the rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19, schools must limit the number of people in the sports venues. During basketball games, for example, there will only be one coach and the players on the bench, with no volunteers. A handful of people will be allowed for the home team for the shot clock, game clock, home book, videographer and one supervisor. There will be media allowed, by reservation only, but no fans.

Kennelly wasn’t convinced that it was safe, not just for the students but for their families in case COVID-19 did spread.

“There is a risk that a parent or a guardian could become very seriously ill as a result of this vote,” Kennelly said. “Additionally, our schools provide more than just education. You’ve got 40% of our students on food aid. The disruptions to this school also impact the health and well being of our students.”

The following coaches will be assigned to these teams: Brian Brandes, boys basketball; Jeff Potter, girls basketball; Keith Clark, boys hockey; Butch Martin, girls hockey.