We want the Harrisburg school to reconsider their decision on the canceling of fall sports

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Dear Superintendent and Board of School Directors: I am writing on behalf of the students, parents, alumni, and fans of the Harrisburg High School Cougars to request that the District revisit the August 2020 decision to postpone fall sports. It is my sincere hope that it is not too late to reverse that decision, like many of the other area Districts. I would hope the earlier decision is not too late to be reversed. It is important to consider the health and safety of our student-athletes; however, it is equally important to consider the student-athlete and their parents’ right to participate. I completely understand the decision made in consideration of all of the uncertainties of the pandemic at the time the decision was made and the concerns regarding the disproportionate impact that it was having on minorities; however, I have concerns about how the decision was made and the timing of said decision, especially, since other districts similarly situated to Harrisburg’s demographics (Pittsburgh City, Steelton-Highspire, & Central Dauphin East), whom may have the same concerns but did not make the same decision. Are those schools less concerned about their children’s health and safety than Harrisburg? I think not. Firstly, as the guardian of a student-athlete who was anticipating his last year of high school athletics this fall, my first concern is that the decision was made without consulting or meeting with the parents and guardians about allowing their student-athlete to participate or opt out of fall sports because of virus-related concerns and fears. It is my understanding that all the parents and guardians were required to sign a consent form and that there was none who refused or decided to have their child opt out. Secondly, I am concerned that the consideration given to the health and safety of the District’s studentathletes did not consider the costly affects to the mental health issues parents/guardians are left to deal with because our children have to watch as all of the other schools in their conference playing while knowing that they are not allowed. Thirdly, Harrisburg has a storied history of sending student-athletes to college on athletic scholarships. College bound students that may not otherwise be able to continue their educations at the next level. Fourthly, I am extremely concerned about how many of our athletes will fall victim to crime and possible murder or even other unthinkable harm because they have no structured activity to attend after school. Lastly, recently the CDC report states that many minorities who have been tragically affected more to obesity issues and not just because of their pigmentation. Further, recent news articles show to date there have been over 1000 games played without an outbreak or spread of the virus. Dauphin and Cumberland County infection numbers have been considerably lower than some other areas that have not cancelled or postponed fall athletics. In closing, I believe that it is totally unfair to the students of this District to endure the disadvantage of being the “only school” in our conference to opt out of the fall athletics while other neighboring schools with the same concerns have taken the approach to put their student’s health & safety first by following their safety prevention plans. I feel that now is the time to revisit the hasty decision made in August and stop the further detriment to the mental and physical health and safety of the District’s student athletes. I sincerely hope and pray that you give this your utmost reconsideration and call for an emergency Board meeting inviting the public (social distancing of course) to revisit your initial decision.