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Bay Village Schools will allow fall sports to begin practicing Thursday

Athletics had initially been suspended, prompting students to plan a protest rally for Wednesday.

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — The Bay Village City School District will allow its fall sports teams to begin practicing starting this Thursday, lifting a suspension on such activities put in place just four days ago.

Officials say the decision to allow sports to start back up came "after thoroughly reviewing all agency guidelines and recommendations — as well as our already in place student-athlete daily health screen protocol." While teams can begin training any time, coaches will decide on the exact schedules.

RELATED: Parents to rally in Northeast Ohio this week to keep schools, sports in-person

District Athletics and Activities Director Matt Spellman issued the following statement:

"We kept the dialogue open with our student-athletes, coaches and parents, and shared the reason we hit the pause button, and continue to communicate with them. After reviewing all the guidelines and recommendations, we feel we are very focused on the safety of our students with proper protocol, including daily health screens, small groups and phasing. We recognize how important sports and extracurricular activities are to the lives of our students."

Non-contact sports like golf, tennis, cross country, volleyball, and cheerleading will be able to conduct tryouts as well as practices, while football and soccer will restart in phases and can only train for now. Band and drill team members can also start practicing, but only in small groups.

Bay Village initially suspended athletics on Saturday at the recommendation of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and still may hold all classes online to begin the school year. The decision to pause sports drew mixed reactions from the community, and students had even planned a protest rally for 4 p.m. this afternoon to ask for a season. The rally still took place even after the district's announcement, with Superintendent Jodie Hausmann giving her support for the way the students spoke up on the issue.

"We praise our students for exercising their free speech rights," she said. "We are so proud of their approach to problem-solving."

Administrators have already met with students and parents regarding plans for fall sports, and plan to do so again today.