Okemos athletes protesting two week pause

Protest over Okemos sports shutdown
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 8:51 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Students at Okemos schools are protesting tonight after the district put sports on a two week pause at the recommendation of the Ingham County Health Department and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They’re upset that Okemos is on pause while neighboring districts are not.

They say they were out protesting Tuesday because the school board and superintendent haven’t listened to them.

Lacrosse player Torben Blaxton said, “I was planning on playing lacrosse in college, and with this year being postponed two weeks, it gives us like no time to get film or actually have games.” Tommy Balesky, a basketball player at Okemos, added, “It’s frustrating being the only one in the area, when all the other schools are practicing and playing, and were sitting here not being able to do anything.”

Superintendent John Hood said he appreciates the way the students voiced their concerns Tuesday.

Hood said, “I acknowledge the frustration, disappointment and impact, both within athletics and across the district, that COVID19-related decisions continue to have on our students, staff and families.  District decisions during public health emergencies are informed by public health officials who remain invaluable in sharing their expertise regarding the health and safety of our students, staff and community.”

He added, “Board of Education President Dean Bolton and I have extended an invitation to meet with representatives from the group to hear their concerns and are encouraging of giving voice specifically to our students so we can hear from those our decisions are directly impacting. During these challenging times for the district and community, I thank our students for the respectful and thoughtful manner in which they express their voices in advocacy.”

The two week pause started on April 9, and is scheduled to expire on Friday. The district has not said whether it plans to extend the pause or not.

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