Maintain Sports and Extracurricular Activities in Bexley Schools

Maintain Sports and Extracurricular Activities in Bexley Schools

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Maintain Bexley Sports and Extracurriculars started this petition to Bexley City Schools School Board and

To Superintendent Dr. Miller, Dr. Williams, and the Bexley City Schools Board of Education:

We the undersigned are writing in support of continuing sports and other extracurricular activities in Bexley City Schools this fall, even if the district is in a full distance learning model. Many of us also support a return to in-person learning as soon as possible, but with the current plan for all-distance learning for at least a portion of the first quarter, we believe that maintaining sports, band, clubs, activities and the arts during that time is vital to our students’ health, both mental and physical.

Distance learning will hopefully allow most students to maintain their academic progress, but it also isolates them from their peers, teachers, coaches and mentors at such an important time in their lives. This isolation too often results in increased depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation; potential for substance use; and other issues that have been termed a “parallel pandemic.” Not having a typical school day also deprives students of the daily structure to which they are accustomed.

Giving students the opportunity to participate in extracurriculars during distance learning will allow students to connect in meaningful ways with peers, coaches and advisors, and can minimize the issues mentioned above. Unfortunately, the guidance coming from the Franklin County Public Health Commissioner suggests doing the opposite. Dr. Williams offered the same guidance to the Board during the July 30 meeting. 

We ask for your reconsideration for the reasons outlined above, as well as the following:

  • There does not seem to be a data-driven reason for canceling sports and activities just because schools are in distance learning. This recommendation comes across as an assumption or “given” that if students cannot be in the classroom, they cannot be engaged in extracurriculars. However, these activities can be done in smaller groups, often outside and more socially distanced, than what is easily achieved in the classroom. 
  • That assumption might have made sense in a pre-Covid world. In unprecedented times, we need to think outside the box. We have heard repeatedly that we must adjust to “the new normal.” In this new normal, we call on you to think outside the box and find ways to allow our kids to do everything they possibly can during this time. Be creative. Be flexible.
  • The Franklin County Public Health Department is now allowing return to play plans to continue, because the children are not currently in school/distance learning. It stands to reason, if this can proceed safely through the summer, then it can proceed safely once the students are in school. 
  • The OHSAA has also announced that schools may proceed with fall sports practices as of August 1 . We also encourage Bexley City Schools to follow the OHSAA recommendations and allow fall sports to begin practice and competition, as outlined for contact and non-contact sports. 
  • Finally, there are many dedicated coaches and teachers who have been working diligently on procedures for safe return to school and activities. The Bexley Task Force worked so hard in this area, for which we are very grateful. During the July 30 board meeting, task force member Dr. Norris indicated that she believes that a safe return to extracurricular activities can be managed using the strategies that the task force had developed based on CDC guidelines. As another example, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association released guidelines for the safe return to practice and competition. They are extraordinarily thorough and thoughtful. This is just one example of the efforts being made to find safe ways for students to participate in the sports and activities they love. Please give them the chance to do so.

Thank you very much for your hard work and for your consideration.

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