On Aug. 20, the Wichita Board of Education (BOE) chose to make grades 6-12 complete at least the first nine weeks of the school year online. This resulted in unrest from athletes of all ages and their parents as it also meant the cancellation of fall sports. Athletes and their families argued that removing sports would take a huge toll on their mental well-being and would impact the seniors’ opportunities to play in college.
On this basis, BOE members felt that it would be best to reevaluate the possibility of having sports even when students are online. During the meeting, the BOE talked about all the risks, but also what good could come from allowing some form of sports.
On Sept. 4, after much deliberation and discussion, the BOE made the decision to allow sports, with certain restrictions.
During the meeting, sports were put into three categories: lower, moderate, and high risk. Higher risk sports include football and wrestling, moderate sports include basketball and soccer, and lower risk sports include golf and cross country.
The BOE based their decision from the same color system that was used to decide the academic school year, which consisted of green, yellow, orange, and red levels.
The green level was the least restrictive, allowing school onsite and normal sports, while red was the most restrictive, with school being fully online and no sports taking place at all. A restriction on any level means that the athletes and any staff involved with them would be asked to social distance and practice good hygiene during and after practice.
USD 259 is currently in the orange category, which results in grades 6-12 going to school online for at least the first nine weeks, and restrictions for moderate and high-risk sports. The sports will likely be reevaluated at the same nine week mark as the remote learning.
After taking everything into consideration, the BOE decided they would apply certain restrictions and not allow spectators at all sporting events, but allowed sports to continue.