Woodstock sports fans heaved a collective sigh of relief Friday night when the Woodstock School District 200 school board voted to have a fall sports season.
In a special meeting, the board voted, 7-0, to move forward with a fall sports season for boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls tennis and girls swimming.
On Tuesday, in its regular meeting, the board voted, 5-2, to start the year with remote learning. District 200 previously was looking at a hybrid plan with some in-person instruction to start the school year.
At that meeting, questions were raised about the safety involving fall sports since students would not be attending school. Friday’s special meeting was scheduled, and people were invited to voice their concerns, either in person or through messages to the board.
Last week, the IHSA deemed that cross country, boys and girls golf, girls tennis and girls swimming were low-risk sports and could compete this fall. Football, boys soccer and girls volleyball, the other three fall sports, were moved to a February start.
The IHSA also listed strict guidelines for its sports to help by limiting the numbers of participants to allow athletes to keep distances between one another.
People were invited to speak in person or send messages to the board with their thoughts on fall sports. Several people spoke in person, then District 200 superintendent Mike Moan read messages which had been sent to the board. It took Moan about 40 minutes to read the messages, all of which were in support of fall sports.
Woodstock North football coach Jeff Schroeder was first to speak on behalf of the other fall sports.
“It’s our responsibility to provide structure for the kids if at all possible,” Schroeder said. “I feel we can make adjustments to make these sports even safer. It is paramount that we at least try. It will give our kids a sense of normalcy.”
Schroeder has worked in the district for 12 years. Rob Mecklenburg has taught and coached in District 200 longer than that. Mecklenburg does not think remote learning and fall sports go hand-in-hand.
“There are many reasons we feel in-person teaching is not right at this time,” Mecklenburg said. “I believe our ADs and coaches are more than capable of keeping our athletes safe. Cross country will have less teams, less people running. We can be creative in ways and still pull this off.”
Mecklenburg suggested that parents driving their own athletes to games could cut down on the amount of bodies on bus rides.
“Our kids want to be active and compete,” Mecklenburg said.
Moan addressed the board after reading the messages, then board president Carl Gilmore read his own prepared comments, mentioning that there is a choice with athletics not to participate if an athlete or their parents did not feel it was safe.
Gilmore finished his comments with “I believe we should vote in favor of allowing fall athletics.”
The motion was made, seconded and the board voted unanimously in favor.