48 minutes in the past
Highlands Faculty Board reversed course Monday and voted unanimously to right away resume winter sports activities.
The choice got here after a roughly two hour dialogue by which mother and father and college students requested the board to rethink permitting winter sports activities — basketball, wrestling and swimming — to happen, and board members debated whether or not it may very well be achieved safely in gentle of the covid pandemic.
Along with following all security pointers and protocols, no spectators or mother and father can be allowed, and masks should be worn always, aside from swimming. Superintendent Monique Mawhinney stated the primary confirmed report of a violation will end in that sport being canceled.
Mawhinney stated there had been studies throughout fall sports activities of coaches and college students not sporting masks.
“I’m all about defending our college students and our workers and our neighborhood,” she stated. “If the board goes to exit on a limb to do that, we’re going to maintain everybody accountable.”
The district had introduced that each one sports activities and extracurricular actions have been being suspended whereas college students were moved to full-remote instruction from Dec. 1 through Jan. 15.
Mother and father and college students addressing the board famous that surrounding districts are permitting sports activities to proceed even when their lessons have been being held remotely. Athletic Director Drew Karpen stated PIAA officers stated they’d not delay the season.
A priority raised through the assembly was about scholar athletes having the ability to get of their required variety of practices earlier than their first competitors and, if a call was not made that night time, your entire season can be misplaced.
The wrestling season begins first, on Dec. 16, adopted by basketball on Dec. 17 and 18, with swimming starting Jan. 7, stated Shawn Bennis, a highschool principal and basketball coach.
Board member Debbie Beale made the movement for winter sports activities to renew, noting the influence of the cancellation on college students’ capacity to get scholarships and impacting college students contemplating attending a army academy.
“We have to rethink what we’re doing to our kids. It’s time to check out the opposite aspect of this covid situation,” she stated.
“I’m involved concerning the psychological well being on this neighborhood,” she stated. “We aren’t a neighborhood of wealth. There isn’t all of the help techniques right here on this neighborhood for lots of kids and we all know that. A coach … is a father or mom determine to a few of these youngsters on this neighborhood. I’m very involved for the psychological well being of the kids proper now.”
Though all board members finally voted to approve resuming winter sports activities, some, together with Laura Butler, initially expressed reservations and opposition to doing so.
“How can we are saying we are able to do sports activities however we are able to’t put these children at school?” Butler stated, including that she will’t see how college students may very well be six toes aside and sporting masks whereas wrestling and enjoying basketball. “It’s an airborne illness. It’s a pandemic. We actually want to consider the well being and security of those children.”
Board member Kristie Babinsack stated, if the district says it could’t maintain college students secure in buildings for lessons, how can it justify bringing them again after faculty to play sports activities.
“It simply doesn’t make sense for me,” Babinsack stated, including that hers is a sports activities household. “I’ve to place their security forward of what they wish to do.”
Board members stated they have been additionally involved about defending the district’s workers and workers, with Nicole Kocon saying the district has no substitutes. The district’s legal responsibility, and potential for being sued, was additionally a priority.
“I don’t wish to be personally liable for somebody’s life,” Butler stated. “As a board member, that makes me very uncomfortable.”
Faculty doctor Dr. Kultar Shergill stated the choice to go to distant lessons and cancel winter sports activities was primarily based on the rise in covid instances in Allegheny County, which has gotten worse since then.
“Sadly, that’s the fact. It’s going to get a lot worse within the coming weeks,” he stated, including that he didn’t know a technique to carry sports activities again safely.
In asking the college board to permit winter sports activities to renew, Rebekah Younger, a Highlands junior from Brackenridge, stated college students are combating lessons and use sports activities as an outlet.
“A variety of us want some kind of escape,” she stated. “Basketball is an escape for myself, no less than.”
Varsity wrestling coach Grant Walters stated he worries what college students are doing with out sports activities, which he stated retains them off the streets and out of bother.
“These children actually need this,” he stated. “They want the chance to play.”
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