GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A single email spurred a call to action for over 40 Grants Pass high school students and parents as they gathered to protest school closings and spectator bans at sporting events and other activities.
"Let us play" chants rang out in front of the Grants Pass School District 7 administration building Friday morning as student-athletes and parents called for a change in policy. They wanted in-school classes and a return to the playing fields.
"This is what we want, this is what we're here for," Elle Beth Isabell, a senior at Grants Pass High School, said. "We're here for Grants Pass, we're here for the students, we're here for the coaches, the teachers, all the sports. It's what we want so why not come out and show everyone what we want."
From the admin building, the group of students marched through Grants Pass and ended at the Josephine County Courthouse. There, they stood on the steps as cars passed by and honked in support of their message. Their message garnering the support of Grants Pass' mayor, Roy Lindsay.
"These kids are learning the freedom to protest, the freedom to express their opinions I love it, I think it's great. But I also support what they're trying to say," Lindsay said.
The email which motivated the students to protest came from Grants Pass High School athletic director Clay Rounsaville. In his message, Rounsaville writes, "current state guidance doesn’t allow for us to have visitors in our schools, therefore Grants Pass School District 7 has taken the same position for athletics and other activities."
Parents and students felt at the very least family members should be able to attend sporting events, especially outdoor events, as long as local and state health guidelines are followed. They felt the announcement from the Grants Pass school district left a bit to be desired.
"[Oregon health guidelines say] we can have 250 [fans] there to watch us but they're just taking the lazy way out and saying no to everyone," Grants Pass High School student-athlete Kyle Bautista said. "Kids need their parents there, kids need their siblings there, they need their supporters there."
The Grants Pass School District said the current ban is specific to ongoing activities and voluntary practices. As far as spectators at games when sports seasons on December 28th, the school district will reevaluate if they can safely have fans.