Woodridge school leaders decide winter sports will continue

Basketball teams have players in quarantine; Summit County Public Health has recommended pausing competitions

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Woodridge Local Schools Superintendent Walter Davis speaks to the Board of Education during a special meeting in late 2020. The district is planning to have fully in-person instruction five days a week at all of its buildings this fall. It is currently unclear whether the district will be allowed to offer a virtual option to all district families.

CUYAHOGA FALLS —  Even with many athletes in quarantine and county health leaders recommending pausing competitions, Woodridge Local School District officials decided they will continue the high school's winter sports seasons for the time being.

District superintendent Walter Davis on Tuesday asked the board of education for its feedback because Summit County Public Health recently recommended that all school-aged sports teams stop competitions and Akron Children's Hospital leaders said they supported that recommendation.

"I don't really have a recommendation to stop athletics," said Davis. "Things have been going quite well. Where we've had the need to quarantine, we've done so."

Davis told the board that the high school boys varsity and JV basketball teams are in quarantine because "of a positive case on the team." The varsity and JV basketball games scheduled for Dec. 11, 15, 18 and 22  have been postponed, according to the district's website. A freshman team game slated for Dec. 5 was canceled and games slated for Dec. 14, 16 and 22 were postponed. 

The varsity and JV boys basketball teams are in quarantine through Dec. 23, said Davis.

Davis added there are 10 players on the high school varsity girls basketball team who are in quarantine "because of contact they've had with a positive case in one of our other league schools." The varsity games slated for Dec. 7 and 21 were canceled, while contests scheduled for Dec. 12 and 16 were postponed, according to the district website. JV games planned for Dec. 5 and 21 were canceled, and match-ups slated for Dec. 12 and 16 were postponed.

The quarantine for the 10 members of the varsity girls basketball team runs through Dec. 19, according to Davis.

He said the boys and girls games that were postponed and must be re-scheduled are connected to the quarantine.

Davis said the wrestling team is practicing, but had not had a meet as of Tuesday's meeting. The bowling team has started its season and has had no issues so far.

He noted two high schools in Woodridge's athletic conference — Cloverleaf and Streetsboro — have paused athletics, but the other schools in the league are continuing with their seasons.

Only the parents of Woodridge athletes are allowed to attend their son or daughter's home competitions; no fans of visiting teams are allowed to go to Woodridge's home contests.

"It's very serious that we look at this very closely," said Davis. "I just don't think that we have the data right now for me to recommend to you that we shut down athletics."

Board of Education President Jeff McHugh said he agreed with Davis that the data does not support pausing athletics.

"We have a very good plan in place," stated McHugh. "If the situation deteriorates, or the data suggests it, I think we know what we have to do. I don't think we have to do it right now. It makes me uneasy, but I think everything's in place. We got to ride it out."

Davis said he's heard from parents who are happy that sports are continuing, and that they can attend the home games. He noted there has been some negative feedback from parents who question why their son or daughter has to quarantine. He emphasized that the district is following Summit County Public Health's quarantine protocols "to the letter" and will continue to do so.

Instrumental, choral concerts occurring remotely

The middle and high school's instrumental and choral concerts are being recorded and those performances will be sent to the parents to view in a virtual format; those performances are not occurring in-person.

Davis said some parents of band and choir students have complained that it's "not fair" that they are unable to watch their son or daughter's performances in-person, but parents of athletes get to see their children compete in-person for home games.

Noting that he himself was a "band kid," Davis said he understands the concerns of parents of band and choral students. While those parents will not be able to watch their son or daughter perform in person, Davis noted, "We are going to give them the opportunity to watch it in a different way."

He also acknowledged that watching a virtual concert "isn't the same… I understand it, I get it," but added he believes, "where we can limit gatherings, we should, and that is one area where we can and we have."

Regarding choral performances, Board Vice President Tammy Heffernan noted, "it's pretty hard to sing with masks on," and added that singing while standing close to one another is a "little different than the sports."

Heffernan said showing the concerts online is "a plus" for parents or grandparents who may be unable to attend an in-person performance. She added she felt the virtual performances should continue to occur even after the pandemic ends.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.