Updated: September 16, 2020 11:44 PM
Created: September 16, 2020 06:40 PM
DELMAR - The Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education decided to push soccer and field hockey seasons to the spring Wednesday night.
The announcement came after dozens of student athletes and parents showed up to protest outside the board meeting.
The district said the decision on the return to sports was made by administrators and did not require the approval of the board of education. But, a number of board members showed support for the choice to only have low risk sports this fall.
Bethlehem student athletes and their families are wondering how other Capital Region districts are finding ways to make fall soccer and field hockey work.
"What's the difference between Bethlehem versus Nisky or Shen or Shaker?” senior Marissa Mastiacco asked.
Many argued that every other district in the Suburban Council is allowing those teams to play this fall, but board members said that's not true.
"When we were starting this you know we were kind of on an island what is Bethlehem doing?” board member Chris Myer said. “You know but now that we start adding up all these pieces when you look across the state we are not out of the norm."
The BOE said they made the decision because timelines were expedited, and the guidance they received from the state, local health department and athletic association led them to believe it was safer to not play this fall.
They also say the fact that nearly 90 percent of students are returning to classes in person influenced their decision to move soccer and field hockey seasons to the spring.
But that could create difficult decisions for the athletes themselves, many of whom play spring sports as well.
"I do what I can I try to play fall sports if possible but I mean will just have to wait and see and see what happens,” junior Tyler Novak said.
Before closing the meeting, Superintendent Jody Monroe addressed the extreme responses from student athletes and their families.
"Many that I have received expressed a level of anger that took me by surprise and that we're not only untrue but were unkind,” Monroe said. “Many of these emails were the worst I received in my 26 years in education."
Monroe said Bethlehem's soccer and field hockey teams will be allowed to play next spring as part of the Fall Season 2 that begins March 1, 2021, barring any Covid-related restrictions.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.
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