Parents, athletes celebrate Middletown decision to restart sports and activities

Offensive line coach Matt Money checks temperature of sophomore Nicholas Cox before football practice Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at Barnitz Stadium in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Offensive line coach Matt Money checks temperature of sophomore Nicholas Cox before football practice Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at Barnitz Stadium in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Middletown school parent Heather Flack watched Monday evening’s school board meeting online at home with her family as officials voted to re-start the prep football program and other sports despite coronavirus concerns.

Flack’s son, Logan, is a junior at Middletown High School and plays right tackle for the Middies.

After Middletown school officials ordered the suspension of the football and all other sports’ season in late July – including the marching band and show choir programs - hope for hundreds of city school students and families for a normal fall season of after-school activities had dwindled.

But the board’s 5-0 vote to resume all fall, winter and spring sports and other extra-curricular activities had the Flacks cheering.

ExploreMiddletown restores fall sports, marching band, show choir

“We’re so, so excited that these kids get a chance to do what they love,” Flack said. “I’m truly glad they listened to the parents and let us decide what we want for our children.”

Middletown school parents will have to now sign waivers declaring “an assumption of risk and waiver of liability related to communicable diseases/COVID-19,” said school officials.

The board vote was a difficult decision, said President Chris Urso.

“These are difficult times with difficult decisions. Everything we do is essentially a gamble,” Urso said. “We’re a walking, talking science experiment but we trust our parents.”

ExploreMiddletown officially shuts down sports, other activities for start of school year

The Middletown football program can begin playing opponents in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC), said school officials. Middletown’s first football game is away on Sept. 4 at GMC opponent Fairfield High School.

And the high school’s marching band can perform at football game halftimes but not in band competitions.

Football, as well as other practices for boys and girls sports, resumed Tuesday afternoon after the district’s remote-learning school day was completed.

Still in place, Middletown officials stressed, are state officials’ orders limiting spectators at all fall prep games for both boys and girls sports. Only immediate family members can attend.

Fellow board member Todd Moore said the board’s reversal, which came after some athletes and parents lobbied school officials, was the right course.

“Parents want to be the ones who make decisions about what is best for their kids,” said Moore.

Among those students impacted are more than 550 athletes at Middletown High School and Middletown Middle School, which share a campus, and more than 100 members of the high school’s marching band.

Marlon Styles Jr., superintendent of the 6,300-student Middletown Schools, said after the board vote “I’m jumping for joy for our athletes, marching band and our show choir.”

“I appreciate the board’s courage,” said Styles.

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