LANSING, Mich. – Michigan parents and student athletes voiced their concerns at the state Capitol Thursday, hoping to convince Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and health officials to start winter sports as soon as possible.
Late last week, Whitmer announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) would be extending a pause on winter contact sports, namely hockey, wrestling and basketball, through Feb. 21 while allowing restaurants and concession in entertainment venues to reopen at 25 percent capacity.
“We’re not given any kind of hope at all, and Feb. 21 isn’t an option. We can’t do all this on Feb. 21. At that point, it’s over,” said Jayme McElvaney, director of Let Them Play Inc. in Michigan.
”I’ve done all you’ve asked of me, and yet you continue to take away the thing that means the most to me during this period in my life,” said student athlete Nico Johnson.
One school superintendent, who also recovered from COVID, described students who came to her office after learning that their season wouldn’t start for weeks.
“The next few minutes had a profound impact on me. There, outside my office, were high school students from all grade levels. They weren’t loud or disruptive. They were just standing there broken,” said Stacy Johnson, superintendent of Britton Deerfield Schools.
The hearing came one day after House Republicans laid out their COVID plan, which would include $2 billion to help schools reopen, but shifts decision-making power rom the state health department to local health departments.
On Thursday, Whitmer said she understands students wanting to resume sports, but the new, more contagious COVID variant is a huge concern.
“We’re all struggling with a level of burden. There’s no question. And yet this virus is still a real threat. It is mutating,” Whitmer said.