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Student athletes rally to reopen sports near Seattle, WA, after teachers refuse to return to the classroom

"Scholarships are being stripped away from us by not getting an opportunity to play. These are life changing opportunities."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle, WA
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Student athletes gathered outside the Kent School District office in Washington state to rally, after the district announced they are delaying the reopening of athletics.

Athletics were slated to begin January 2021. According to the Kent School District Athletics Department website, "The Kent School District (KSD) has postponed the start of all high school and middle school athletics. The exact date for Season One has yet to be determined but will be no sooner than February 22, 2021. However, this date is not confirmed and is for planning purposes only. A final decision on a return date will be based on public health guidance, the spread of the virus in our community, and bargaining with our labor partners."

KSD is one of the only districts in the state that is not returning to sports. Students from KSD, the fourth largest district in the state of Washington, rallied to voice their heartbreaking concerns and frustrations. Junior Nate Becker, a High School football player from Kentlake, plead to district officials, "Let us play." Becker emphasized that "scholarships are being stripped away from us by not getting an opportunity to play. These are life changing opportunities."

Another student voiced, "In a time like this we need hope. Senior events (that we have been waiting four years for) have been taken away from us. Don’t punish us because our teachers don’t want to go back."

The protest comes after teachers from district refuse to return to the classroom until certain contract demands are met. KSD emphasized that they will not be returning to sports until in-person learning has started back up again.

The teachers’ refusal to return to the classroom, despite the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's new, urgent recommendation to begin in-person learning, is the main obstacle coming in between students and sports.

It’s not just students who are upset with the KSD, parents are too. Dan Becker, Nate Becker’s father, expressed many frustrations with the district. "The Kent School District made a decision that we are not going to have sports. I pay taxes for the buildings, the new fields, the coaches, and the teachers. I’ll do the parenting and decide whether my kid is on the field or not."

Connor Ryan, a sophomore baseball player at Kentridge High School expressed, "As a member of the Kentridge high school baseball team, I think and know that it is time to play sports and start opening the schools for in-person learning. Governor Jay Inslee has allowed select and summer sports to start practicing and playing games. The WIAA proposed a new plan for season 1 sports to start by February 1st. Kent School District is one of the only districts in the state to not allow sports to start along with the rest of our state. We have started a petition which has now gained more than a thousand supporters. If KSD doesn’t let us play then many seniors will be missing out on their final and most likely last season of sports, and for most student-athletes that play in the spring season didn’t get to play their junior year due to the pandemic and closures in March of 2019. Not starting sports is affecting all student-athletes especially athletes who have a chance of making it to the college level."

Washington State Health experts, along with the CDC, urged schools to resume in-person learning with proper safety precautions. KSD has been closed due to COVID-19 since March, 2020. Officials within the district will make a decision as to whether or not these students will be allowed to return to sports in the next coming days.

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