LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Students, parents, and families are planning a protest at Clark County School District headquarters on Thursday to protest the Las Vegas area school district's decision to cancel the fall sports season, which was previously postponed to the spring.
"I think there was a way for us to get it done but the governor made the call, the school district made the call, so we gotta live with it," said Leon Evans, Rancho High School's football coach.
But families of student-athletes across the county are not resigned to live with it just yet. The Facebook group "Let Them Play NV" has added hundreds of members each day since CCSD announced the cancelation of the fall sports season Friday.
Nicole Goughnour, a parent, is advocating for other families to push for answers from the school district -- sending emails, letters and making calls. The group also plans to show up at CCSD headquarters Thursday at 4 p.m.
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara addressed the dilemma on a recent Irem 99 Las Vegas panel, saying that bringing back sports before students are back in classrooms sends the wrong message.
"What are we measuring as important? When my reading scores are where they are, when my math scores are where they are, are we saying that athletics are more important than academics," asked Jara. "No! But that's the message that would be sent out."
Jara said he understands the impact this has on students, that sports and the arts are the number one way to prevent drop-outs.
"I want my kids to be back in school," he said. "So help me get my kids in school and then I'll open up all the different aspects that we have in athletics and after-school activities."
The all or nothing approach is frustrating to parents like Candice Tung, who's also a frontline physician.
"Obviously as parents we want them to be in-person to some extent, or hybrid, but that just seems like it's a little slow going," she said.
"I think for the high schoolers who -- they've talked about being so worried about their mental health -- this would be the perfect way to segue into giving them something back," added Tung.
CCSD is dealing with a mental health crisis with 19 students taking their own lives since remote learning began.
Tung said almost a year into the pandemic, the school district has had time to make adjustments and put “return to play” guidelines in place to keep everyone safe.
Many families say allowing for sports to return in some capacity would give their kids something they haven't had much of for the past year -- hope.
"I don't want anyone lost in the fray in this," said Goughnour.
"This breaks my heart for all these kids out here," she continued, holding back tears. "I'm sorry but they're just - they're our future."