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Testing requirement poses challenge for high-risk sports in Chenango County

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(WBNG) -- The Chenango County Health Department has given approval for high-risk sports, but many schools are still working to finalize plans.

Director of Environmental Health and Code Enforcement Isaiah Sutton said the county's final guidance was released to schools Monday.

Unlike Broome County and Tioga County, Chenango County will require schools to undergo weekly testing until the county's seven-day rolling positivity rate is at or below 4%.

Sutton said the county is trending that way, but it has has not quite reached that point.

"Our plan is to keep kids as safe as possible," said Sutton. "While the activity is an increased risk, the plan is designed to mitigate and minimize that risk."

Sutton said schools were given the clear to begin high-risk sports practices, which does not require weekly testing.

Norwich Athletic Director Richard Turnbull said practices for the Purple Tornado will begin Wednesday.

"Now we have the guidance, now we know what have to work with, now we know what we have to do," said Turnbull. "Really the focus is on being safe, for everybody involved."

Turnbull said the biggest hurdle right now is coming up with a plan to conduct weekly testing.

"We're pooling our resources, we're working with some different local groups and really talking to a lot of our other Chenango County schools that are in the same boat that we're in, with figuring out how we can get through that testing piece so we can get to competition," said Turnbull.

Turnbull said right now, they do not have a target date for games to begin.

As far as travel restrictions, Sutton said the guidance does not require schools to remain within Chenango County.

Both Broome and Tioga County have those restrictions in place, which poses a challenge for Norwich, which typically competes in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference (STAC).

Turnbull said they will likely start competing against schools within their area, and eventually move toward other schools, including Oneonta.

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Nicole Menner

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