Several parents and students said the Kingston School Board erred in its decision last month to cancel “high-risk” winter sports, which include boys’ and girls’ junior varsity and varsity basketball, cheerleading and intramural wrestling.
The comments came at the February 18 school board meeting, the first since the decision was made. At the next board meeting on March 3 the board will decide the fate of fall and spring high-risk sports, which include football, volleyball, cheerleading, lacrosse and basketball.
Parents said their children’s emotional well-being has been affected by the cancellation of sports. Some said there has been no connection between sports and the spread of the virus. Superintendent Paul Padalino said the decision followed guidance from healthcare officials.
“I’m having a really hard time with the decision the board made last week,” said Laurie Richter, whose son is a wrestler and football player. “I had to take a couple of days to make sure my son’s mental health was stable again after your decision.”
Richter said she’s done “a lot of research” and that other schools are allowing students to play sports.
“At [early February’s] board meeting, I heard a lot of talk about health,” said Richter. “I never once heard anyone say anything about the mental health of the children.”
She said sports “kept [her son] sane.”
Another parent, Andrea Sass, said the board seemed to have its mind made up prior to discussing the issue.
“The majority of the board was looking at this through one lens,” said Sass, whose son is a ninth grader. “This issue is, in fact, multi-faceted … anyone that was watching the meeting could quickly pick up the tone set and infer the outcome of the vote.
“The opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics provides our children with a safe and stable environment,” said Sass.
Other winter sports that weren’t cancelled include swimming, gymnastics, bowling and skiing.