Superintendent to write letter supporting Let Them Play movement

DAVISON — The superintendent of Davison schools will write a letter to lawmakers in Lansing and prepare a resolution for the board of education to approve, both in support of the Let Them Play movement which is seeking to have the state resume high school winter sports before the planned Feb. 21 reopening.

Superintendent Kevin Brown said Feb. 1 he would begin work on a letter and resolution to put Davison Community Schools on record as being in support of the Let Them Play Movement. The resolution could be back before the board for approval sometime this week.

Brown was outlining the district’s COVID-19 learning plan, which was given approval for extension by the board, at the meeting Monday night, when Trustee Matthew Smith said he wanted to see the district take a stance in support of the movement to restart winter sports before Feb. 21.

“Some of our students are not achieving their fullest potential because of this virus,” he said. “I think we need to start winter sports.”

Smith said he has been in contact with our State Representative David Martin (R-Davison), Athletic Director Dave Beamer and numerous parents in the district, who claim by not letting students play winter sports it creates a risk for mental illness and substance abuse among student athletes.

“I want Davison schools to be fully open again, safely. What I think we need to do is explore a potential workshop as a board where we could all collaborate with each other and talk about where we’re at currently and where we need to be,” said Smith. “So, we can get our district back on track to where we used to be a year-and-a-half ago. The most memories are made in high school and sports are a part of that.”

Trustee Nick Goyette said he agreed with Smith and said considering that bowling alleys are now reopen, students should be able to return to sport. The only sport in question being wrestling, which may not resume due to the close-contact nature.

Somehow, Goyette said, wrestling needs to be included and added a workshop for the board might be to place to resolve some of the questions about wrestling and other winter sports.

“I was a student athlete and there were times my grades weren’t up to snuff, but I had to get them up, my achievement was on the line,” said Goyette. “Because of sports, that pulled me over the line. The confidence I gained from achieving at my sport has helped me in life. There’s a well-being that we have to consider, an effect.”

Board President Karen Conover said the district has pushed back in many ways against the state mandates, but she said she think they “have pushed the envelope as far as we can.”

Still, Conover said she agrees with Smith and Goyette and also supported the plan to send a letter and prepare a resolution for board support.

“It’s a travesty what’s being done to us, but we don’t have a whole lot of power in it,” she said. “We could certainly do a resolution. We can work through the MASB (Michigan Association of School Boards), our state organization that does lobby for legislation. Those are different ways we could let our voices be known.”

Smith said he knows the district doesn’t have the power to make its own executive order, but the board does have the power to be the voice for the 5,900 students they represent, and the taxpayers they also represent.

“A resolution on file shows the public what we’ve done,” he said. “We’d send it to the governor and legislature saying, ‘this is where the Davison Board of Education stands.’”

Brown said he and other superintendents met with the state Republican caucus, consisting of State Sen. Ken Horn, and state representatives Mike Mueller and David Martin, and this topic came up.

At the county level there was discussion about this prior to the meeting, said Brown, adding the consensus of the group was to not get involved as a countywide group, but he said he knows there are other superintendents that have taken a stand.

“I would be more than willing if the board supports it to write a letter in support of Let Them Play, and for drafting a resolution and a workshop if you’d all would like to support it,” said Brown. “But we’ll need to act quickly, right now things are scheduled to resume on Feb. 21.”

Brown said the Let Them Play movement has gotten a great deal of traction in the past week or so he thinks there may be some action on this front sooner than expected.

The board did approve extending the district’s COVID-19 learning plan for another month and gave direction of Brown to proceed with a letter to the state and the drafting of a resolution.