As the seasons change and fall sports wrap up for high school, Kent Soccer Coach Ross Adair looks back pridefully on the work that him and his players have done over the past few months, all while managing to stay safe as well.
“Surprisingly, we had zero positive positive cases on the team… I think what helped was taking strict precautions from the the beginning to show parents we were serious about it, and then as time went on things did become a little bit more lax. I think it proved that doing some things are better than none,” said Adair.
Adair said that despite the restrictions on spectators, the school was able to create an environment that was safe for all who wanted to watch the game at their leisure.
“We played at the practice field where there is no stands, so you can just put a chair anywhere around the field and it seemed like there was always a good amount of people at the games. They would all sit on one side… and keep a good distance from everybody,” said Adair.
Terry Slattery, head athletic trainer for Kent Schools, detailed why the games had to be moved to these special playing areas.
“If it is inside of a fence and there is a seating capacity, it has to be 15%, by OHSAA state rules. If you charge, then you are saying you are charging for seat capacity, you’re charging for a spot,” said Slattery.
Despite the strange circumstances, Adair said that throughput the season he did not receive any complaints at all. He maintained that whether their was fans, COVID, or nothing at all, the development and safety of his players is his foremost objective.
Sports are not the only activity that Kent City Schools have been able to maintain some sense of normalcy. As a publicly funded resource, Kent City Schools will maintain their duties in not only supporting elections and offering an emergency shelter, but also providing free COVID testing.
“There is going to be a COVID testing site set up at either Stanton or Roosevelt on Sunday, a free testing site, you know, the big tent and the drive-through,” said Slattery.
Slattery says that this testing site is just further example of the responsibilities that Kent City Schools has promised to maintain to the best of their abilities.
Despite the best efforts of the school district though, Slattery says that the threat of COVID may force them back to fully online learning.
Slattery put it simply when referring to the county’s COVID designation, “If it goes up again, we will be all online.”
It is not just educators like Slattery and coaches like Adair who are worried about this worst-case scenario, as local legislators have acted to work against the rising tide of cases across Portage County.
Last week, the City of Kent introduced a new city ordinance which banned private gatherings of more than 10 people. While some followed this warning, others were outraged and rebelled against the city regardless. Logan Schouman is one of those rebels.
Over the weekend, Schouman was the recipient of one of these $500 fines for hosting a gathering of more than 10 people. He would not comment on the specifics of his case because he said that he plans to fight it in court but he was very vocal in what he thinks is unjust and selective enforcement from lawmakers.
“We’re college kids you know, so the city and the school, they’ve got our money, they don’t give a damn what we think now. Is drinking with friends or a party a necessity? No. Is going to church a necessity? No. Just because a church is seen as moral, they can gather hundreds of people indoors but 11 college kids in an outdoor yard is a $500 fine. It just seems excessive to me.”
Despite his outrage Schouman did concede that he understands the subtle differences to business or other places that may allow them to stay safe but nonetheless remains skeptical of the motives of the ordinance.
“I feel like that it could be targeted to a certain group but how I see it is, I feel that these restaurants can have protocols put on what they’re allowed to actually do and within your own home, people can’t tell you what you can and cannot do so I think that that is why the limit that to 10 people,” said Schouman.
As a student who attends Kent from out-of-state, Schouman expressed disappointment in the fact that the city and citizens of Kent seem to see college students as an opportunity for profit rather than appreciating their potential wants and needs. He said that without more students voting in local elections, their voice will never be heard.
Despite this knowledge of its impact, Schouman said, “Truthfully… I do not plan on voting.”
With the City of Kent’s current battle against COVID seeming to go drastically differently for the many institutions in town, lawmakers and those in charge of Kent City Schools continue to urge the public to take extra safety precautions.
For more information on COVID-19 in Kent and Portage county, visit https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/overview.