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‘Safety is our No. 1 priority’: Van Buren Co. superintendents urge state to allow winter sports to resume

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 19:35:26-05

MICHIGAN — Twelve superintendents in Van Buren County wrote a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services imploring officials to allow winter contact sports to resume.

RELATED: Families voice frustration after the postponement of winter sports

Paw Paw Superintendent Rick Reo believes they can do so safely, considering their fall season was a success.

“Safety is our number one priority. We don’t want to put our students at some terrible risk,” Reo said during a Zoom interview on Tuesday afternoon. “But the mental health aspect of this and the impact that it’s having on kids who really count on that participation needs to be considered.”

Reo said that was one of the main messages of the letter. When Governor Whitmer recently announced that restaurants would be allowed back open on Feb. 1, Reo thought that winter sports--basketball, wrestling, hockey and competitive cheer--were going to resume as well. However, that was not the case.

“This is not a situation where I think we’re making a mountain out of a mole hill,” Reo said. “Kids need to be involved in these activities. They need that socialization. They need to be able to compete. It’s such a big part of their lives for a lot of kids.”

Reo said what the group would like to see is evidence or proof that supports the state’s decision to halt winter sports. Until then, he hopes that their letter reaches the state officials and that their voices be heard, especially for the kids' sake.

“Making decisions on that level, I think superintendents can sympathize with that because obviously we're faced with tough decisions for our individual school districts with respect to the pandemic,” Reo said. “So, we certainly can sympathize with that, but we just want to make sure this perspective is considered.”

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