By WECT Staff | December 21, 2020 at 6:14 AM EST – Updated December 22 at 12:19 AM
BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The Bladen County Board of Education voted 5-3 in favor Monday of allowing its high schools to play basketball this season.
Voting in favor was Chris Clark, Dennis Edwards, Vinston Rozier, Alan West, and Glenn McKoy; voting in opposition to the motion was Tim Benton, Cory Singletary, and Roger Carroll. Board member Gary Rhoda was absent from the meeting.
The news was like an early Christmas present for Bladen County student athletes.
“I am ecstatic I am happy to be able to play this season,” said East Blade senior Jacob Priest. “This is my senior season so I wanna go on a high note this year.”
After the board’s first vote students from East and West Bladen High Schools banded together with one message. They wanted the school board to know they are willing to wear masks in practice and in games to get the chance to play.
“I really think it was all the students coming together and then really listening to us,” said East Bladen senior Katie Evans. “It really makes me grateful that all of our hard work to reverse the decision paid off.”
“I feel like with everyone coming out and supporting the cause.” added East Bladen sophomore Anna Grey Heustess. “Giving our reasons why we want to play helping the mental health of kids.”
Earlier this month, the county’s high school athletic directors and superintendent decided that the teams wouldn’t play due to N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) requirements that players and coaches wear masks at all times during practices and games this season.
“The high school AD’s and Superintendent discussed that the CDC notes that wearing a mask during strenuous, physical activity can make breathing more difficult. Additionally, sweat can make the mask wet, which impacts breathing and promote the growth of microorganisms. It is also important to note that people will react differently to physical activity while wearing a face-covering. Based on the current COVID protocols and scientific evidence, the AD’s and Superintendent collectively agreed that the high schools should not participate in basketball,” a press release from the schools read.
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