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Middletown athletics moving forward as district announces remote learning plan to start school year

072414 barnitz update2
Posted at 11:21 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 11:21:25-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Middletown High School continues to plan ahead for the fall sports season after the school district announced Monday night it will start the school year with remote learning due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As of right now we're up and running still as is," Middletown athletic director JD Foust said.

"We're waiting on word from the governor and OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) what they're going to do. From the standpoint as athletic director, I get it and understand with teachers and the kids in the buildings and that. With fall sports, most of them being outside except for (girls) volleyball, and most of them we've been up and running for a few months now and monitoring and doing good stuff and not having any outbreaks and that. I don't see why we couldn't have sports."

The Middletown Board of Education voted to start the school year Aug. 17 with remote learning due to the increased spread of COVID-19 in its Butler County community.

"This is a decision the board of education and my administrative team have not made lightly as we all want to get to the classroom environment, but the risks to the health and safety of our students and staff are too great at this point in time," Middletown City Schools superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said in a letter.

Middletown, a charter member of the Greater Miami Conference, had 671 boys and 637 girls in its OHSAA enrollment as a Division I program in the 2019-20 school year.

OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring told WCPO Tuesday morning a district's decision on the style of learning during the pandemic doesn't have a significant impact on athletics.

"No real implications in Ohio other than, whether virtual, in-person or blended learning, students are still required to take and pass five one-credit courses or the equivalent in order to be eligible the second grading period," Goldring said. "As an organization, we may need to review that regulation to see if temporary modifications to the five credits makes sense."

Official OHSAA practice starts Aug. 1 with the Middletown golf season starting a few days after that.

Foust said the Middies already have some remote learning student-athletes including those involved with Midd State, an online option through a partnership with Middletown City Schools and Cincinnati and some home school students, too.

"I don't see it as a problem as long as the kids are attending the remote learning and that just because it's just going to be like normal school but they are going to be doing it from home," Foust said.

"So as long as they are logging in, they're attending each class and doing the work we're going to be able to track eligibility, attendance and then hopefully that will still give us the power to have sports."

Foust said the Middletown athletic department decided to use vans for transportation this fall. It plans to utilize buses for athletics events along with the assistance of parents and/or guardians for transporting student-athletes.

"I think at this point we will do whatever we need to do for the kids to have a season," Foust said. "I think the kids have been through enough from last spring and taking school away and graduations and that. This upcoming senior class - whatever needs to be done to make sure that these kids have a great high school experience and complete a season, I'll do."

Foust said Middletown will continue its dialogue with the GMC to make sure all 10 schools are on the same page for athletics.

Colerain athletic director Craig Ulland, president of the GMC athletic directors for the 2020-21 school year, said the conference athletic directors met virtually for about three hours Monday to discuss the fall sports season.

"It was a very productive meeting," Ulland said. "There are many folks working diligently to give our student athletes the best chance to compete this fall."