Olathe school board votes to begin fall sports — with one major requirement for some athletes | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

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OLATHE, Kan. — The Olathe school board has voted to allow high school fall athletics and activities to begin, but everyone participating in high-risk sports and activities will have to learn virtually all season.

The board approved a motion 5-3 Thursday night saying the district will follow the Johnson County health department’s gating criteria when it comes to academics — but will make adjustments for sports.

Based on COVID-19 data, Johnson County is still in the health department’s “red zone,” which calls for in-person education for elementary students. Middle and high school students will begin the year with remote-only learning.

Olathe has decided that it will not follow Johnson County’s gating criteria for sports and activities, though, which recommend they are only held remotely.

Instead, the district will allow for practices and games for all fall sports and activities to move forward, but there will be some stipulations.

Students in high risk sports (like football, wrestling or cheer) or high risk activities (like choir and band) will be required to attend classes remotely during their entire participation — plus two weeks afterward (or get a negative COVID-19 test).

The district is determining what sports and activities are high risk based on guidance from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Additionally, parents and students over 18 will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging they understand the benefits and risks of participating.

Finally, spectators will be limited at games and other events, and social distancing and masks will be required. Watching via a live stream will be encouraged.

These stipulations could be relaxed if COVID-19 cases significantly decline in Johnson County and the board rescinds its decision in the future.

Olathe parents and students protested outside before the district’s Thursday night meeting. Then the board heard more than two hours of public comment before beginning their discussion on school learning modes and sports.

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