Photo courtesy of Gadsden City Athletics
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
With Gadsden City Schools starting remote instruction on August 17, questions regarding extracurricular activities are generating concern. Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick addressed the issue of fall sports at the Gadsden City Council Meeting on Tuesday, July 28.
Currently, extracurricular activities like football, volleyball, cheerleading and band will continue although students will not participate in traditional face-to-face learning. The reason behind Gadsden City’s decision to implement remote learning, which serves as direct teacher-led education, is the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the recent spread of COVID-19 cases in Gadsden, Etowah County and surrounding areas, Reddick and GCBOE members tackled difficult and potentially dangerous possibilities if students were to attend school face-to-face.
“Imagine this,” said Reddick. “First of all, we have to get them to school. On a bus, who is going to sanitize those buses? Are they going to take kids’ temperatures when they get on the bus? Well, maybe. What if they don’t? What if the kids get sick on the bus, whose responsibility is it? Was the kid sick before or after he got on the bus? We have to deal with all those kinds of things. So now, take that into our classroom.”
The same questions arise when football teams travel to other schools. Reddick noted that playing football outdoors differs from players being cooped up in a limited capacity bus, sitting seat to seat. He also referenced the Miami Marlins Major League Baseball team, which suffered a suspended season due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak resulting in 15 players and two staff members testing positive for the virus. Gadsden City High School has already recently had to shut down the football team, cheerleaders and volleyball team for a 14 day quarantine because athletes were infected.
“I’m very concerned about whether or not we should even have a football season,” Reddick said. “The discussion hadn’t started yet, but I’m very concerned about that. I’ll be calling the principal and coaches. We’re going to be in deliberation about that.”
Other topics of discussion regard the band not traveling and athletes wearing masks and face shields, which Reddick empathized would make breathing more difficult. Reddick reassured the public that although football is a major entity in Alabama and he too would like Gadsden City players to participate in their respective sports, the health and safety of Gadsden City students remains the ultimate priority.
“We are trying to follow every protocol and every guideline to keep our kids safe,” said Reddick. “We are being proactive and reactive and as cautious as we possibly can here.”
Despite the discussion, no decision concerning fall sports has been instated. The Gadsden City Board of Education will discuss the issue of fall sports regarding COVID-19 at its next upcoming board meeting on Tuesday, August 4.