CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Public Schools athletics programs will continue to remain on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district board of education said Wednesday night.
The board of education reiterated a decision in a public hearing Wednesday night that the district made in early August.
CPS student-athletes are able to practice at their home schools but not move into the next phase, which would include interscholastic competition.
A group of students gathered outside the board meeting Wednesday and chanted, “Let us play.”
“I just need this,” said Taft High School senior Aaron Pendleton. “I feel like this is my only way. To get to where I need to be.”
Pendleton said he put everything into his senior season – blood, sweat and tears.
“I need everything, all my reps on the field, so the scouts can come and look at me,” he said. “So I can make it out of Cincinnati. Get my mom out of the hood and everything else.”
He said it’s hard to watch other schools and districts play.
“How can other schools play football games, have people in the stands and everything else?” Pendleton said. “We can only have practice?”
Those gathered outside the meeting expressed concern about the mental health and safety of students.
“Football is what keeps everyone safe,” Pendleton said. “Keeps us all together. If we don’t have football, what else do we have? It’s just going to lead us right back to the streets.”
The board’s decision includes non-contact sports as well.
“We don’t agree with the one-size-fits-all policy to abolish all contests at CPS,” parent Sean Maher said. “There’s some sports that can continue safely. We’re here to support that.”
CPS Board of Education President Carolyn Jones acknowledged the amount of feedback the district has received from the community about athletics.
"We do value the opinion of parents and students," Jones said.
Under the plan, CPS officials said in early August it would review community health data during the week of Sept. 14, poring over Cincinnati case numbers, the city's positivity rate and Hamilton County's status on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
"We feel it is in the best interests of all our students for us to make sure that we commit to doing what we said we were going to do, and that is analyze our data, see where we are and make good, sound decisions based on the facts," Jones said. "We appreciate your patience with this and will continue to work very diligently to make sure that we're caring for all of our students."
The district will evaluate the situation with the pandemic Sept. 14, with the possibility of reopening athletics for interscholastic competition Sept. 28.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association fall sports season officially began Aug. 5 with boys and girls golf. The other fall sports followed with the start of their seasons in August.
This marks the second week of the Ohio high school football regular season.