By David Fleet
Goodrich- On Monday night District Superintendent Wayne Wright simplified a growing complex issue.
“We basically have two choices, we can test our athletes and have spring sports or if we do not we have to cancel our spring season,” said Wright, during the April 12 School board meeting regarding the many phone calls received due to the COVID testing of student athletes. “This is a requirement, mandate by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services then passed on the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association.”
School administrators, students and parents have been grappling with the March announcement that all sports practices and competitions involving 13- to 19-year-olds individuals statewide are prohibited unless the participants take part in a testing program as specified in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Interim Guidance for Athletics issued March 20, 2021.
According to the State of Michigan guidelines, athletes who test positive for the virus after a weekly rapid coronavirus test cannot return to practice or play on a team for the rest of their infection until they get a negative test.
The reason for the testing stems from an increase in coronavirus cases again. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, citing case counts and test positivity rates that have increased over the last four weeks.
Michigan is heading in the “wrong direction with the key metrics we are tracking for COVID-19,” said Dr. Khaldun, in a statement to media.
Emily Swanson, a mother of a district student-athlete addressed the board on Monday night regarding the testing which began on April 7.
“My parents always tell me that if I saw something going on in the world that was unjust, unfair or immoral, that it’s my duty to set up and do something if I had the power to do so,” said Swanson. “This is the time for that. I set an example for my three daughters, and for you as well. I’m not here tonight to ask to stop testing, because I know that no testing means no playing, and no one wants that right now. I am here to ask you as a board to join other districts in Michigan, and that list is growing daily, that have written a letter to the governor, to the Michigan Department of Human Services and their local health departments expressing their frustration over this ridiculous mandate, and fighting for the rights of students here at Goodrich.”
Parents of athletes like Swanson recently found some statewide grassroots support.
The Lansing based Honigman Law Firm filed suit on April 1 in Lansing on behalf of Let Them Play Michigan and three parents individually suing for their children against state Health and Human Services Department Director Elizabeth Hertel. The legal actions are in response to the March 19 order from Hertel’s department and a subsequent guidance for student athlete testing for the coronavirus.
“As a direct consequence of MDHHS’s violations of their due process rights, Plaintiffs have suffered incalculable damages,” the filing reads. “Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law for this continuing violation of their constitutional rights.”