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Safely back to school: Fall sports remaining stalled at Boise School District creates contention among parents

An online petition draws nearly 700 signatures.
Posted at 10:36 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 11:40:34-04

IDAHO — As we reported, the state's largest school district, West Ada, is bringing fall sports back.

But the state's second largest district is taking a different track; the Boise School District, which is also in the red category, has decided not to bring fall sports back while the region remains in the 'red category,' as advised by Central District Health.

In a statement provided to parents, Boise School District administrators wrote, "Regardless of the rationalizations many districts across the region have used to begin athletic practices and even contests prior to students returning to their traditional classrooms, our position has not wavered.. Our first priority will always be the safety of our students."

But others say it's a complicated issue -- pointing out that COVID-19 isn't the only health risk.

"I would ask that they think instead about the safety being not just COVID," said Julie Compton, Ph.D, a mother of a Boise School District student.

She said she's concerned about the effects of isolation.

"Depression, suicide, hopelessness, isolation -- all the other things that happen when kids aren't involved in whether it's sports or art or whatever they choose to do," said Compton.

Compton said her 15-year-old daughter's screen time has gone up significantly.

"She went from maybe four to six hours a day before school started on Zoom and virtual, to now, 12 hours a day of social media."

This -- exacerbated by the screentime that comes with online learning.

"She spends the entire day sitting down looking at a computer. When school is over, there isn't an organized sport," said Compton.

And she's not alone in feeling this way: nearly 700 other people signed this online petition to bring back sports to Boise School District (it's worth noting there are 25,000 students in the district).

Compton says her daughter, alongside other students, has been partaking in remedial workouts in nine-person "conditioning pods," where she says the coaches have been wonderful and flexible.

But she says her family is one of many that is disappointed knowing they can't compete. Compton is asking administrators for workarounds -- especially for sports that can be performed outside.

"11 v. 11 is how we normally play, maybe we play a different -- ya know -- 9 v. 9? There are other alternatives. We can test students before games, we could play less games and not have state tournaments," said Compton.

Still, Boise Schools administrators appear to remain steadfast, writing to parents, "Until Central District Health moves Ada County into Category 2 (yellow), we will continue to hold small, 10-member group practices/conditioning/skill workouts at our high schools."

Administrators added, "We share your belief in the importance of athletic programs to our student’s academic experience and many of us have benefited as adults from the life lessons athletics teaches. We remain hopeful that the downward trend in COVID-19 cases continues."

At Idaho News 6, our Rebound Idaho team is working to bring you the critical information you need, so we can all bounce back from these uncertain times together. Do you have a story you'd like to share regarding heading safely back to school -- or about school sports? We want to hear from you. Reach out to us at therebound@idahonews6.com.