OPRF Students, Parents Gather in Protest of School Canceling Sports, Activities After COVID Surge

Students and parents at Oak Park River Forest High School are protesting after learning that all school clubs, activities and sports have been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns on campus.

The district said it has seen a steady rise in coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, recording a nearly 30% increase, and believes the cancelation was the best decision to slow the spread.

However, students and parents said they’re not happy with how the district is handling the situation.

“I don’t think they should be canceled. I get where they’re coming from, I just think there’s probably a better way they can handle it,” said OPRF freshman Bobby Tansey.

Students say they are devastated by the decision, saying they feel as though they’re being punished for the action of others.

“Seeing that other people are just kinda taking this away from me is frustrating. It’s just like why,” said high school senior Todd Kiefer. “We need to hold certain people accountable because they’re taking things away from other people [who] really worked hard.”

An email went out to parents Friday night announcing the cancelations. The district made the decision after experiencing a COVID outbreak at school, with 17 confirmed cases in the past week.

“When you factor in the number of positive cases we have against this school,” said OPRF Supt. Greg Johnson. “We find that the positivity rate within OPRF is about three to four times that’s in the surrounding communities right now.”

The superintendent faced the crowd Saturday evening, addressing the decision and the mitigations, as well as answering questions from frustrated parents and students.

“If they make a promise to you right now that they will do whatever it takes to do—do you have their backs?” one person asked the superintendent.

The superintendent answered, “Yes—that’s why I’m here.”

In order to resume activities, the district said students and staff must continue to wear a face mask in the building. Other mitigations include working to spread out students during the lunch hour and trying to get as many students as possible to voluntarily participate in the saliva testing program.

“I just don’t see it necessary to ban clubs and activities,” said OPRF freshman Cole Baird. “That’s not where most contact from COVID would come through it would come in the classrooms.”

The district said roughly 2,000 students opted in for the saliva testing, but only 100-200 students have been participating each week.

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