Sweetwater district athletes threaten virtual walkout in call for sports practices to return

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. โ€“ Sweetwater Union High School District athletes are threatening to hold a virtual walkout Wednesday to push district leaders to allow fall sports practices to return.

The district, which began the year virtually Aug. 3, said last week it plans to continue distance learning through the end of the year with its slate of sports on hold until San Diego County’s coronavirus numbers improve.

But in the district’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday night, roughly 80 parents wrote in to encourage Sweetwater Union to reconsider bringing back fall sports.

“At this point, sports is the only thing that represents what use to be normal,” board clerk Deanne Vicedo said Monday, reading aloud from one parent’s email.

“Kids are depending on sports for scholarships and not letting them play hampers their opportunity,” another parent’s letter said.

Members of the board Monday said they will continue to monitor the local case rate to decide how best to proceed. Officials are planning to meet Nov. 30 to chart the district’s second semester path as the entirety of the first session plays out online.

Parents and administrators have faced an evolving and at-times conflicting set of recommendations from experts and public officials about when and how to reopen campuses.

The Centers for Disease Control has said some schools can bring kids back on campus safely, citing lower reported case and death rates among children. However, the agency only recommends opening in areas where there is not significant community spread of the virus, and where schools can be certain that precautions, including social distancing, face coverings and limiting activities, will be followed.

In California, counties must be in the state’s “red tier” for two weeks in order for campuses to be allowed to reopen. But the decision ultimately falls to individual districts to determine if and when to open.

But parents, coaches and athletes watching Monday argue they haven’t been told what the threshold is for a return. Frustrated as the year slips away, hundreds already have signed a petition to allow sports practices.

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