From the desk of Berea City Schools Superintendent Tracy Wheeler:
Fall Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
August 20, 2020
My position is to approve the Berea City Schools participation in interscholastic athletics (both contact and non-contact) and extracurricular activities for the Fall of 2020 at both the high school and middle school levels.
- Athletics and extracurricular activities involve a significantly lower number of students and adults involved as compared to the larger numbers of students and adults who would attend in-person instruction inside our school buildings.
- The location of where athletics and extracurriculars take place are generally outdoors and/or in much larger areas (for example, a football field or an indoor gym space with significant square footage compared to a classroom that has much less square footage). These locations allow us to provide greater space to ensure more physical distancing.
- Time spent together in a structured environment with safety protocols is better than what our students will be doing in the community without adult supervision and safety protocols in place. The amount of time students and adults spend together during in-person instruction is significantly more than the time our students spend together preparing or participating in a sport, marching band, or an extracurricular activity.
- Since athletics and extracurriculars have begun this summer, we have been able to successfully implement mitigation measures. All of our non-contact and contact athletic programs have been practicing since July by following the established protocols and guidelines that were set forth by OHSAA and with guidance from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Marching band just recently started band camp and is also following the same protocols and guidelines that were established for our student-athletes.
- The Cuyahoga County Board of Health gave additional guidance in their recommendation that was updated and provided on August 5, 2020. In that recommendation, they indicated that they understand the need to have some “educational needs and services” delivered in-person and in small groups. That would include extracurriculars. The BCSD will find ways to allow for extracurricular activities to continue to keep our kids connected to “school” and their peers in a safe manner.
- We have committed to continually evaluating and monitoring the athletic program weekly so we can make the best decision in real-time. To cancel the season now, would take all flexibility away from us moving forward. If there were to be a turn in the Cuyahoga County Board of Health recommendation and we cancel now, we would take away all of our flexibility to adjust in real-time.
- Contact sports begin their seasons before the start of Remote Learning.
- The Southwest Conference (SWC) is committed to collaboratively working together to support each member’s school district in developing safety protocols that will ensure safe competition and fan participation.
- With BCSD being in a remote learning period we are looking for any opportunity to engage and connect with our children. Although we certainly understand the optics of how can you have sports/extracurricular activities and not come back to school in person, we view these two things as different for reasons previously mentioned-facility, amount of people in a space, indoors vs. outdoors, numbers allow for us to make more robust health protocols possible, etc.
- If it becomes clear through our weekly check-ins that it is not working or that our students/staff health is in jeopardy we will be forced to suspend or cancel. We want to give the kids a chance.
- Many will debate and ask why we can have athletics, and not have in-person instruction. We are trying to do the best we can to help our kids get through this difficult time, but so far, they have proven to us that they can do this safely.
Middle School athletics will begin on Monday, August 24th. Families should look for information forthcoming from coaches and the Athletic Director.
Tracy L. Wheeler