Catholic schools in NYC still frustrated athletes can’t return to play now

ZogSports kickball players using the playground outside Lower East Side Prep High School, at 145 Stanton St., last Sunday. PHOTO BY JAMES OO

Catholic school leadership in New York is still holding out hope that the city government will allow their athletes in high-risk sports to return to play immediately. 

Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio gave teams for sports like football, soccer and lacrosse across the city the ok to return to play in May nearly two months after the start of the season. For weeks, Catholic school sports teams and the Catholic High School Athletic Association called on the city to allow student-athletes in high-risk sports to return to practice and competitions given that school system had safely allowed athletes in low-risk sports to return already. 

Now, both Superintendents of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York are requesting guidelines, again, from the New York City Department of Health in order for their students to play before May. 

“The Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York have
been open and operating safely for some time now. Both the schools and the Catholic High School Athletic Associations (CHSAA) are committed to safe practices in higher-risk sports to ensure the safety of the student-athletes, their families, and other persons with whom they may come in contact,” reads a joint letter from Brooklyn Diocese Superintendent Thomas Chadzutko and New York Archdiocese Superintendent Michael Deegan to Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

“CHSAA student-athletes should not be prevented from competitive play because other school systems have been unable to open or condition their student-athletes,” the letter continues. “To do so would unfairly penalize these children and, in essence, punish them for following all guidelines to date.” 

In the letter, Chadzutko and Deegan ask that Catholic school student-athletes be given guidelines and an accelerated timeline for the CHSAA season compared to the Public School Athletic League. Both also emphasize that they requesting a special variance or deviation from normal health guidelines for sports. 

A DOH spokesperson said the department is currently reviewing the letter.