CPS discusses guidance for athletics, how it differs from virtual learning
COLUMBIA - At the Columbia Public Schools board meeting on Monday night, district members discussed with board members about the current plan for fall athletics in both the middle and high schools.
District administration shared the overview of what guidance has been taken for sports since the beginning of the pandemic, and how that guidance has changed base on recommendations by the Boone County Health Department.
The discussion came amid complaints about the allowance for fall sports to go on while classwork was moved to a virtual system.
On August 14th, the Boone County Health Department released a comprehensive sports guidance document that provides general guidance for the administration of all sports, as well as specific guidance for each sport. Different guidance is given on different areas of athletics, based on whether the sport is a contact or non-contact sport, the size of the roster, and whether the sport requires traveling to compete.
The school board said the district used this guide to develop their fall sports contact plan that involves daily prescreening, temperature checks with infrared thermometers, mask requirements, limited group size, and an operational plan for high school activity fields.
Repeating concerns from some parents, board member Della Streaty-Wilhoit posed her concern with the district administration about why sports are still permitted to be in person when virtual learning has been deemed the safest option for student's education.
That question was met with discussion about how public education is compulsory, and athletics and other activities - like marching band - are not. In a regular school year where there is no pandemic, families are assuming a higher level of risk signing their kids up for sports than sending their child to school. With the pandemic, risk is even higher, and parents have to actively make the choice to involve their child in sports, knowing the dangers it poses.
However, everybody has to attend school, and to optimize the safety and learning for all students, the board believes that the best option for Columbia Public Schools right now is to stay 100% virtual.
"There's a difference between a two-hour match and a seven-hour classroom", states Dr. Peter Stiepleman.
Another board member also said if athletics are not instated within their district, private teams are likely to form that may not follow the same guidelines of safety, which would result in the district not being as confident reentering schools for in-person learning.
District leaders say that all plans regarding athletics are subject to change based on the events of the pandemic.