Twinsburg school board will 'wait and see' on youth sports using facilities

Additional security and sanitation needs raise concerns to allowing other groups practice, play in stadium, sports fields

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Brian Fantone, athletic director, talks about the upcoming sports season at the Aug. 18 school board meeting.

TWINSBURG – Let’s wait and see.

That was the general consensus of the Twinsburg Board of Education when the question of whether to allow youth sports teams not connected with the schools to practice and play on the district’s facilities.

One question has to do with liability, said Chad Welker, the district’s business manager. While the district’s insurance doesn’t exclude coverage due to COVID-19, it was uncertain how much would be covered. There also are concerns about the increased need for sanitation and for contact tracing due to the pandemic, along with state restrictions on large gatherings of people.

Superintendent Kathryn Powers said that in addition, the district would have to have a compliance officer on site.

“It’s a tough conversation because we love our youth organizations,” Welker said. “They are great community partners. Other districts are also concerned with what we are talking about today. But I have not heard of anyone opening their indoor facilities and stadiums to outside groups.”

Board President Mark Curtis said the district should wait and see how reopening in the new school year goes.

“Unfortunately, I think we will have to wait and see,” Curtis said. “The more we know, the more we can respond appropriately.”

Board member Adrienne Gordon agreed. “While I totally support our youth sports, we need to get through the first couple of weeks. Let’s work through those weeks, see what needs changed, then come back.”

Powers said that Summit County Public Health said something similar, saying the board advised against introducing “a lot of variables at once.”

“That’s a recipe for disaster,” Powers said.

Ron Tonelli, the president of the Twinsburg Youth Basketball League, said he understood and supported the school board’s decision. The league uses the district’s gyms, as well as the Twinsburg Fitness Center, for practice and games.

“I agree with that,” Tonelli said. “I assumed that would be the case. I understand the magnitude of the situation. I have two kids in the district, and I hope they will have a good experiences with school reopening.”

Tonelli said that the basketball league, which has teams for first through sixth grade, usually has registration Aug. 1, with games starting in October. Because of the pandemic, the league has not opened registration.

“Best case scenario is a shortened season at the end of the year,” Tonelli said. “I hope cases continue to go down. I realize we might not have a season. We don’t want to contribute to issues with the pandemic, exposing people even more.”

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com