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A rally on the town common, staged by Westford Academy students, drew honks of support by passing motorists on Dec. 14.
The students were protesting a School Committee decision on Dec. 7, to eliminate Basketball and Hockey for the 2020-2021 school year. The decision springs from concerns over the relentless COVID-19 virus with the ability to sicken the athletes or to enter the school building where it could then spread. The recommendation to eliminate the two sports came from Superintendent Bill Olsen at a point when the viral spread was elevating two weeks after families had gathered for Thanksgiving, and a vaccine was stillbeing tested.
The worries outweigh the reality, however, since the number of cases coming from inside the school buildings is low.
“The numbers are negligible,” Olsen acknowledged.
But bodily contact is a feature of hockey and basketball, and Olsen said he has a responsibility to keep everyone safe.
“My role and one of the roles of a superintendent is to be the custodian of the health and safety of students and staff,” Olsen said. The School Committee agreed with his recommendation with a vote of 4 to 3.
The athletes lined the edge of the common, holding their signs up for the drivers to read. Banding together were teammates on both girls and boys hockey and teamates on girls and boys basketball.
Carley Davey, co-captain of the girl’s basketball team, said everyone on the team was willing to follow all protocols if they could just play the game.
“I think it’s really telling how many came out today,” Davey, a junior, said. “I mean, it’s cold. It’s a little bit wet with snow. Everyone here wants to just go out and play. Everyone here wants a season.”