'Let them Play' rallies urge reopening of schools, sports in Bay Area

Community members on Friday organized "Let them Play" rallies at 17 Bay Area sites in the hopes of allowing young people to resume sports and school this year.

About two dozen young people stood in front of De La Salle High School holding signs stating that they wanted to play sports. Students at other high schools held similar events. 

Nearby at San Ramon Valley High, aerial views showed about 50 to 100 students on the sidewalk in front of their school, holding signs and waving at passing cars. 

"I think sports helps me focus in school. If I don't have sports, I can't focus. If I can't focus, I can't learn," Sawyer French, a sophmore who plays football at San Ramon Valley High School said."

"It also helps me mentally.I feel happier when I play sports. I feel more confident in myself, and I just love playing the game," added freshman Race Dahlstrom.

The California Interscholastic Federation in charge of high school sports was hoping football and other winter sports could resume January 25th, but David Grissom, the CIF Central Coast Section Commissioner, told KTVU that with much of California under a stay at home order, the state Public Health Department won't allow it. For now, the season is on hold until Public Health issues new guidance.

The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with new guidelines for youth sports last month, noting that teens who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 should be cleared by a doctor for heart risks.

"Especially in younger people, there's episodes of illness where it's almost this inflamattory illness where it can absolutely affect the heart,"  Dr. Erin Moix Grieb, Sports Medicine physician at Stanford Children’s Health, said.

Moix Grieb noted that in the past 30 days, San Mateo County has seen about 10% of its COVID cases coming from young people age 10-19.

"There were just over 1,000 cases," she said, noting that the risk of young people carrying and spreading the virus is still present in the Bay Area, and returning to school sports could make the risk even higher.

"We can do the right protocols, we can do the right thing, and we deserve the opportunity," Carrie Shapiro, team mom for San Ramon Valley football said while attending Friday's rally.

Conrad Walker, a father whose son is a senior on the school's football team, said even an abbreviated season would be better than nothing.

"It would be nice for the kids to at least have that, in particular this senior class," Walker said.

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