MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Middletown parents and student athletes came to rally for support to change some minds. Specifically, the minds of the Middletown School Superintendent, Mary Ellen Walker as well as others in the district. They want their outdoor sports back.
Walker shutdown sports until December 7, and the schools have switched to remote learning. Parents and students have reacted strongly against it.
Walker wrote in a letter to the community, "We know our athletes are greatly disappointed and saddened due to the suspension of athletics. Please believe me that the very last thing we wanted to do was suspend in-person instruction and activities."
On Sunday, a rally - a protest - was launched to get sports back on track. They had a turnout that included Middletown North and South. Susan Cerbo a local resident and mother of a student athlete, has been one of the organizers of the rally. Cerbo posted to her Facebook site regarding a second rally planned for Monday, where she wrote, "We need to keep the petitions signed and have students from all sports again tomorrow at 12 in front of the BOE while the Administration is in the building. We have officially requested that if they choose not to change their decision, that we meet with both the Superintendent and the Athletic Director. Games are still on the bracket for States for field hockey and soccer, but they are scheduled to play Tuesday so this must be resolved by tomorrow. Clearly our remaining football game and 46th annual Thanksgiving Day football game need to be played as well. Please stay involved for our student athletes. They are doing an amazing job advocating for themselves, but the community and parental support is overwhelming."
Amongst those in support of the group were newly elected board of education members Jacqueline Tobacco and Frank Capone. Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger also attended. Scharfenberger commented, "These kids put so much time and effort into their respective sports, it’s only fair that they be allowed to follow state guidelines and finish the season as planned. For seniors, there is no “wait till next year.” I am hopeful this decision will be reversed."
The COVID-19 loggerheads across the state are likely to continue.
On November 12, the district notified the public that they were notified of two new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases at Middletown High School North, bringing the number of active cases to six (6) in the last 14 days. On November 15, the number climbed to 8.
The letter on Sunday stated, "This letter is to inform you that an individual at High School North has reported a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 this evening. This brings the total cases to 8 in the last 14 days. School-related contact tracing is complete, and no school-related close contacts were identified."
"We have been collaborating with the Middletown Department of Health, and we are investigating these cases and related information. To ensure the health and safety of all students and staff, all school buildings are cleaned and disinfected each day. In addition, we are following CDC and NJDOH guidance concerning contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation protocols." the letter stated.
For the parents, moving to remote indoor education does not appear to be the issue. The argument is centered on the belief that the Superintendent does not need to cancel outdoor sports.