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Bridgeport students, parents protest ban on football practice

Students and parents came together at the Bridgeport School superintendent's office Friday to say high school football players should have the right to practice in spite of the pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Aug 28, 2020, 11:26 PM

Updated 1,395 days ago

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Students and parents came together at the Bridgeport School superintendent's office Friday to say high school football players should have the right to practice in spite of the pandemic.
Citing potentially missed opportunities and years of hard work, it was a plea to practice football even if they can't actually play due to safety concerns about COVID-19.
"Senior year is really important for me, and a lot of these guys behind me too," says Shawn Reinke, who attends Fairchild Wheeler.
Dionny Delacruz, a Bridge Academy Junior, said the game is a way to keep them out of the streets.
"[It's] a way to keep playing, a way to get us into college and stuff like that," he said.
Despite calls to open the fields, school Superintendent Mike Testani said Friday, "The Connecticut Department of Public Health has made its decision clear to the CIAC that playing or practicing football now is not safe, though they have agreed to revisit the topic at a later time."
"I'm infuriated because, you know, I've put in so much work during off season, the years prior, to really make a name for myself, and try and have that spot on the varsity field. And, you know, it's like I did it for no reason," said Xavier Panphile, a senior at Harding High School.
Some families are also advocating for the kids to play, including Harding's uncle, Craig Wainwright.
"We don't understand how you won't allow the kids to just practice when you're going to put them in the situation of going back to school," he argued.
Julie Benoit, who has twin sons who are also seniors at Harding, says she's "beyond upset."
"This is the last year for them to shine and to be out there, and do what they've been training to do for years," she said. "The kids need a fair chance."
The superintendent says he spoke with some of the parents Thursday who were at the protest, explaining that his decision was based solely on concerns for the safety of students and the public.


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