District completes investigation; professional development planned

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District has completed its investigation into several unauthorized football sessions that were recently held off district grounds and has reaffirmed with its coaching staff that at this time, the district does not encourage, support or authorize any type of organized sports or recreational activities involving members of its coaching staffs.  

On July 15, district officials were made aware that a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 had attended summer outdoor workout sessions on July 6 and 8 with about 20 student-athletes at Mill Run Park in Manlius. The sessions were organized and held without the district’s knowledge. 

On July 16, Scott Sugar, F-M’s director of athletics and physical education, emailed his coaching staff to reaffirm the information he emailed to all varsity coaches on June 25 that per state guidelines, school district coaches are not permitted to organize or coach students.

The state is allowing recreational and club activities to take place; however, the workout sessions involving members of the district’s football program were not organized as part of an official club activity.

“While the district cannot comment on personnel matters, we want the community to know that we have investigated this matter and have made clear to our coaching staff that the state currently is not allowing organized district-connected athletic activities,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice. “Further, we reached out to the families of the affected students so that they could reach out to their healthcare providers for guidance.”

The Onondaga County Health Department also conducted an investigation and reached out to those individuals it felt were at risk for possible exposure. Based on information from the county, the individual who tested positive believes that they did not come into contact with any student-athletes, F-M coaches or other adults during their infectious window. As a result, students who attended the two sessions may not have fallen within the county’s tracing parameters. 

Even though the workout sessions were not school functions, Sugar sent a letter July 16 to the football players’ families encouraging them to be extra vigilant in regard to possible signs or symptoms that may be indicative of a possible COVID-19 infection.  

Several people at the workout sessions told district officials that the individual who tested positive was wearing a facemask and following social distancing guidelines on both workout session dates.

“With the state relaxing some social restrictions and people interacting more with each other, we all need to be vigilant and follow health and safety guidelines,” Tice said. “Schools have a responsibility to protect our students and staff, and we will be taking steps, including staff training sessions and other professional development opportunities before instruction begins in September, to ensure that all of our employees are aware of, and following, the required health and safety guidelines.”