MAYFIELD, Ohio (WOIO) - Despite a recommendation from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Mayfield City Schools are keeping student athletes on the practice field this fall, citing contradictions with a previous order by the Ohio Department of Health.
The move comes amid growing confusion over the plan to start the fall sports season.
In an order issued last Friday, the state health department allowed the continuation of fall sports practices. Contact sports (football, soccer and field hockey) are allowed to practice, but no formal plan has been established for returning to competition.
Non-contact sports are allowed to resume competition.
The recommendation from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health was for all 34 districts within the county to avoid practicing, creating uncertainty in some high school athletic conferences that include schools from multiple counties.
In a letter to parents on Saturday, Mayfield Superintendent Keith Kelly laid out the district’s plans.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. John Husted addressed the issue at a press conference in Columbus on Tuesday.
They said there’s still no formal plan for resuming competition for contact sports and that they continue to work with the Ohio High School Activities Association to create a plan.
Both DeWine and Husted said they would like for high school student athletes to have the opportunity to compete this year.
“If the whole state gets cancelled and we’re part of that, that’s one thing,” said Mayfield football coach Ross Bandiera, referring to the potential for a state directive ending sports for the year. “But to be watching a team that’s five minutes away from us play football, would be difficult for us.”
Of the eight schools in the Western Reserve Conference, only Mayfield and Brush are located within Cuyahoga County. The others are split between Lake and Geauga.
“We know that our administration has the best interest in our safety and our health,” he said. “If they’re being told it’s not safe, then it’s not safe. If they’re being told it’s safe, then they’ll obviously let us play.”
For the student athletes, the last few days have been equally as confusing.
“It’s been nerve racking,” said senior lineman Antonio Mangeluzzi. “I’m grateful that our administration fights for us and they believe in what’s right for athletes. They know sports keep kids stable.”
He, and other seniors, trying to keep focused on moving forward while their final season hangs in the balance.
“This class is special. We’ve fought through a lot and we’ve been together a while,” he said.