Winter sports meeting request sent to governor
Posted on November 11, 2020
The latest effort to reach a resolution to the high school basketball conundrum in Illinois resulted in school superintendents from across the state – including several locally – requesting a meeting with the governor to come up with a solution.
More than 200 superintendents sent a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker’s office asking for a meeting with Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health to create a mitigation plan that would allow for basketball to be played safely.
The letter states it is important for students to have experiences both inside and outside the classroom. They also mention some of the negative effects not having those extracurricular activities have on students, including depression, anxiety, lack of motivation and loss of self.
The letter asks that three factors be considered by the governor before delaying or canceling any further extracurricular seasons for high school or middle school students.
Those three factors include:
• School districts have shown that when given the opportunity, we rise to the challenge and find the delicate balance between health and safety of our school communities while providing for continuity of learning.
• School districts are creative. We continue to find ways to connect with students, teach them, and provide opportunities for participation, and to hold special events.
• In most instances, positive cases found in schools come from outside of the school. We take the safety of our students seriously.
Locally, both of the superintendents in Lawrence County – Lawrenceville’s Doug Daugherty and Red Hill’s Jakie Walker – put their names among the 202 school superintendents that are listed at the bottom of the letter, as did area schools Oblong, Hutsonville, Palestine, Marshall, Paris, Casey-Westfield, Mt. Carmel (Wabash County), Flora, Newton (Jasper County), Olney (Richland County), Fairfield, Shiloh, Effingham, Teutopolis, Altamont, Dieterich, Edwards County, Mt. Zion, Salem, Mattoon, Cowden-Herrick, Neoga, Tuscola, Windsor and many others.
Meanwhile, there was one area school – Robinson – that did not sign the letter. In fact, Robinson announced Monday they would adhere to the IDPH guidelines and not proceed with basketball at this time. On the other hand, Altamont decided to proceed with basketball this winter as laid out by the IHSA.
Daugherty and Walker both believe that sports, as well as other extracurricular activities, need to be able to be offered for the well-being of their students and hope that a resolution can be reached.
“We understand the importance of extracurricular activities for our students. Everyone at CUSD 20 is trying to find a way to allow our students to participate this year,” Daugherty said. “However, we realize we must take the safety of the participants and spectators into consideration. We hope that a compromise can be reached that will allow our students to participate while not putting the district in a compromising position.”
“We feel that IDPH and IHSA can develop and approve mitigation strategies to allow our state to have winter sports that are safe for both students and spectators,” Walker said. “At Red Hill, we believe that extracurricular activities help students have a well-rounded educational experience.”
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