By Shawn Nowlin email@example.com
(Published on January 21, 2021) A group of students, parents, coaches and other community members gathered prior to the start of a school board meeting on January 12 to rally for reopening school athletics. Signs supporters brought read “Let Us Play,” “Our Kids, Our Choice” and “Don’t Take Our Last Season Away.”
“The school district’s reluctance to play has been largely stated as a concern for the community-at-large and the potential for community spread. We would argue that there isn’t any additional risk by letting these kids play for their school,” said Salem parent Nancy Scales.
While she acknowledges that COVID-19 is real, Scales is of the belief that families should be able to make the choice about whether or not their kids play sports.
“We allowed our children at the high school to try out for sports. We fully comprehend and accept responsibility for the risks associated with COVID-19 can bring. We are adults that can take responsibility for keeping our at-risk family members or friends safe,” she added.
Throughout the pandemic, Salem City Schools have closely followed the guidance of the CDC, VDH and the local health department, which is headed by Dr. Molly O’Dell and Dr. Cynthia Morrow. Both doctors have recommended not playing contact sports while the spread of the disease is high – which it currently is.
On January 11, Salem reported 86 new positive COVID-19 cases, which is more in one day than an entire four-month period (March through June) in Salem last year.
“We have given coaches the green light to enhance practices, share a ball and do drills together, as long as they wear a mask. To that end, we have equipped our athletes with masks that are specially designed for athletic competition,” Salem Communications Director Mike Stevens said. “If these elevated practices go well, our hope would be to get basketball players back on the court in actual game situations by January 25, 2021. This would allow the teams to compete in a few games before regionals.”
Owyn Dawyot is a Salem High student-athlete. When asked why it’s so important for him and his teammates to complete the season, he responded, “Because that is what our team works toward throughout the year. It’s kind of like putting all your time and effort and hard work into preparing a big meal and then just staring at it. There is no reward. Competition means so much to us. We are all at our best, mentally and physically, when we are allowed to compete.”
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