AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — Akron student-athletes took to the street Wednesday demanding that school administrators reverse their call to put sports and other extra-curricular activities on hold. The Board of Education made the decision as school districts wrestle with how to resume classes this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Student-athletes, coaches and parents held a demonstration in front of the Akron Public School Administration building Wednesday afternoon, urging the Board to allow students to play sports this fall.
“I worked so hard for this, like…this my future, I’m thinking about college right now,” said Sekou Kamara, a senior and football player at East High School.
“Some of us are seniors and this is our last chance to play with our friends, our family and our school and to make our school proud,” said Anup Lepcha, a senior and soccer player at North High.
Monday, Akron’s Board of Education voted to halt sports and extra-curricular activities as school officials determine ways to keep students safe, when the school year resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The year will begin with remote learning.
“We feel it’s just an extension of our policy to not have kids congregating in schools, it doesn’t make sense that we would then let them congregate as a group in athletics,” said Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson.
The pause also affects non-contact sports and conditioning practice that had been allowed over the summer.
“When we’re in practice, coaches can control what we’re doing, they can make sure we’re spread apart, make sure we’re in small groups and help mandate it,” said Kamara.
Several football coaches say not allowing kids to play sports will also have an impact off the field.
“They can stay away from trouble, they can continue to stay focused,” said Demonte Powell, football and track coach at North High School.
“I done spoke to a couple of boys that said ‘if I can’t play ball this year, I’m done, I’m going into the work field, I’m dropping out of school,” said Laddie Fair III, a football, track and basketball coach at North High.
School officials agree that sports and other activities are important, but say they can’t take any chances.
“If something happens and somebody does get sick, you know, we have to look at that as somehow being partially our responsibility,” Williamson said.
“They won’t be able to have the last season, which is really messed up for them…that’s all they want is the season to play,” said North High soccer player Tania Rodriguez.
School officials say sports and other activities are only paused temporarily. Administrators will remain in daily contact with public health officials and could allow them to resume when they feel it can be done safely.
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