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School officials ask Inslee to restart extra-curricular activities

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | December 23, 2020 1:00 AM

By CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE

Staff Writer

MOSES LAKE — A group of school superintendents, principals, athletic directors and other school administrators from across Eastern Washington are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to allow extra-curricular activities for all school students.

“We have a moral obligation to take action for our students,” states a letter signed by 103 administrators. “ALL students deserve an opportunity and an outlet.”

Sports and other after-school activities have been curtailed as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also saw the state’s schools last spring and students sent home to be taught remotely by computer.

“We now have data that shows statewide and regionally that enrollment is down overall, D and F lists have never been higher, remote learning continues to prove difficult, students are struggling with their mental health, and the use of illegal substances appears to be on the rise as students grasp for things to help them cope,” signatories wrote.

Noting extracurricular programs like sports, music, theater and clubs help students “to utilize their unique gifts and talents and also provide a safer outlet for them to cope,” signatories emphatically wrote Inslee “what our students need is hope.”

Local signatories include: Moses Lake School District Superintendent Josh Meek, Moses Lake High School Principal Triscia Hoschstatter, MLHS Athletic Director Loren Sandhop, Ephrata School District Superintendent Tim Payne, Ephrata High School Principal Aaron Cummings, EHS Athletic Director Bryan Johnson, Quincy High School Athletic Director Brett Fancher, and Grand Coulee Dam Athletic Director Tim Rasmussen.

School is one of the safest places that teenagers can be, the letter reads, and students whose families have means are finding them extra-curricular activities like sports and 4-H, which many students from poorer families cannot afford.

“This is an issue of equity,” letter states.

“We feel that for their safety, and the safety of our communities, it would be best if ALL students had an opportunity to engage locally, with strict safety protocols, and under the guidance of our staff,” the letter states. “There is an immediate need for our school districts, in partnership with local health districts, to have the ability to slowly and safely engage students in small group extra and co-curricular activities with a return to limited, local/regional competition.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com