BOSTON (WHDH) - Bay State schools have been feeling the pinch of the omicron variant over the last few weeks.
In Boston, high case counts have led to staffing shortages and sports postponements for student athletes — but school officials say it may soon be game on for the kids.
At Wednesday’s school committee meeting, parents like former city councilor and former mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George pushed back against the district’s decision to suspend school sports until further notice due to rising COVID-19 cases.
“Honestly, I worry about this further delay and I’m very concerned about this rest of this particular season,” Essaibi George said.
City Councilor-At-Large Erin Murphy, who is another mother of student athletes, said she agrees. In a statement, she wrote: “As long as we are following the CDC guidelines, I do not think we should continue the pause that was started during winter break. Boston Public School kids need this outlet for their social and mental health, now more than ever.”
At the meeting, school officials said small practices can resume after January 18th and if cases numbers improve, competition can resume on January 24th. The athletes will be required to submit to twice-weekly testing.
“Not playing sports is taking a toll on these kids. Their well-being is at stake. Their mental health is critical,” said Boston Latin Academy parent Michael Maziarka.
His son, Ryan plays hockey and even started a petition to urge the district to let them get back to their games sooner.
“I’m a senior now, this is it for me. It’s my last chance to play and I want to proudly represent my school and city in league games,” he told those assembled at the meeting.
BPS COVID-19 reporting data shows more than 1,100 students and staff have tested positive between December 30th and January 5th. This is a 154 percent increase from the data that was reported the week before winter break.
School officials say they will continue to look to the Public Health Commission for guidance.
“I hope this puts our students, coaches and families at ease and that we all continue to place our students’ health and safety front and center,” said Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius.
Officials are working to secure the tests for the students ahead of time.
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