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North Royalton School District reverses course, resumes sports and extracurricular activities

"The social/emotional well-being of our children in the North Royalton City Schools is of vital importance to all of us."
Credit: 3News
North Royalton takes on Stow-Munroe Falls.

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — Less than a week after announcing the cancellation of fall sports for the upcoming semester, the North Royalton School District has done an about face and resumed extracurricular activites.

In a letter to parents and students, Superintendent Greg Gurka said student-athletes are now able to resume practices as a team, band camp can begin, and the "Royal Harmony" show choir can practice. 

"For the past several days, I have been in discussion with our administrative team, Board of Education and surrounding districts about what is best for students regarding extracurricular offerings despite districts starting with remote instruction. The social/emotional well-being of our children in the North Royalton City Schools is of vital importance to all of us," Gurka wrote.

Earlier this summer, the district says it established strict COVID-19 protocols and phases that athletic teams, band and Royal Harmony needed to follow in order to proceed with their activities.

Last week, North Royalton released its reopening plan that included the cancellation of all fall sports for the upcoming semester and remote-only learning for the first nine weeks of the school year. Gurka told parents and students at the time that the move was made following the recommendations of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. It affected all extracurricular activities "unless the extracurricular or activity can be held remotely."

RELATED: 'We want school!' North Royalton students & parents rally for fall sports, in-person learning

Gurka says after revised recommendations came from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health on Thursday, the district first allowed extracurricular activities to continue in a modified phase where no more than nine students and a coach could work together at any one time. Now it is allowing the activities to resume to pre-July 30 status as long as strict protocols are followed. 

Despite Gurka's announcement about the resumption of extracurricular activities, North Royalton will still begin the school year remotely. 

"Even though throughout Northeast Ohio many school districts are starting school remotely like we will, our common goal is to get students back in the classroom. Unfortunately, when we open our schools, we open them to hundreds of students in one building at one time which increases the risk factors for our students and staff. We continue to review the recommendations from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health on providing face-to-face instructional services to small groups of students, particularly those identified with special needs, and will work to implement structures for this in the coming weeks. Hopefully, when health conditions in our region improve, we will be able to continue bringing in more and more students until we are all together in our classrooms and school buildings," Gurka wrote on Monday.

During the nine weeks of remote learning, students will be assigned a classroom with a teacher and be given a daily schedule of classes. These online courses will take place either through live or recorded lessons, but should administrators decide to welcome students back to classrooms for the second quarter, parents will have the option to keep their students home.