Aug. 17, 2020 / Newspaper Columns

By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)

Student athletes and their families have been experiencing much stress and uncertainty recently regarding the resuming of sports and other activities while we continue to deal with COVID-19.

However little someone cares about sports, it is important to understand that some young people have dedicated the majority of their lives to these activities. For many of them, sports are a large part of their purpose and identity. The impact of being out of school for the last five months, combined with the potential inability to engage in an activity they cherish and love is a huge ball to drop on student athletes, especially high school seniors and juniors. For many youth, sports and other activities can be a ticket to higher education and whether it is accessible or affordable.

In response, two house bills have been unveiled to provide reason and clarity for families and students across the state. House Bill 2787 simply would ensure local school boards are the people making decisions regarding fall sports and other extracurricular activities for the students in their districts. To ensure all students have the best educational opportunities, House Bill 2788 would allow students and families to have the option to continue the student’s education and extracurricular activities for an additional year to make up for the loss of instruction and competition during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

Back in June, the Wolf administration issued guidance that would allow each school district to develop an appropriate health and safety plan to resume sports-related activities. In late July, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) announced its plan to resume fall sports, but without spectators.

When asked at a recent press conference about his thoughts on the policy regarding spectators, the governor responded by saying he did not believe any school sports should take place until at least Jan. 1, 2021. The abrupt nature of this announcement, without any preliminary discussions with PIAA or school district officials, and without science or data to back it up, is both unfair and disrespectful to student athletes, their parents and the school and PIAA officials who have been working so hard to conduct fall sports safely.

My response to the governor’s action was that his ban on parents, the band and cheerleaders attending games was unfair and disregarded the ability for many of these “deemed spectators” to social distance.

As always, I welcome the input and opinions of you, my constituents. Please email me at ttoohil@pahousegop.com or call our office at 570-453-1344.

Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office
717-260-6136
RepToohil.com / Facebook.com/RepToohil

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