Portland — In the latest twist of what has been a chaotic week with COVID inside Portland Public Schools, the district shutdown Cleveland and McDaniel High School on Friday, followed up by Roosevelt on Saturday, transitioning them into temporary distance learning due to major staffing shortages. These shortages are a result of teachers being placed into quarantine or calling in sick, which has also impacted nearly 2,000 students between the schools. These two factors played into the decision to transition them into distance learning until January 14th, which has resulted in all athletics being postponed until after the transition back to in-person at Cleveland, McDaniel, and Roosevelt. This has left one question on the minds of athletes from Cleveland: “Why can’t we play?”
According to the Cleveland basketball program, they have enough girls to play healthy and their coaching staff hasn’t been affected either. In other words, they have nothing stopping them from carrying out their games with Roosevelt and Ida B. Wells in the upcoming week under normal circumstances but have been told they cannot play due to the school being shut down from staffing and COVID issues. To Cleveland, they want the same treatment as the rest of the PIL, “Our varsity team is functional with numbers and our coaches are able to coach,” they said in a statement. “We are just asking to be treated like every other basketball program in the PIL.” Attempts to garner an explanation from Margaret Calvert, a Regional Superintendent for PPS, have failed according to the program. Further, they claim there has been no public statement, logic, or explanation provided by PPS on the matter despite a growing call to allow athletes to compete during the temporary transition.
Aside from the public backlash coming from the Cleveland camp, McDaniel has been largely quiet on the issue in the public forum, and Roosevelt hasn’t made any statements since being shut down on Saturday afternoon. Attempts by Elite Oregon Girls to reach PPS representatives or Mrs. Calvert have not been returned as of Sunday morning, while members of Cleveland’s basketball program were present at the PIL Showcase on Saturday in team apparel, silently protesting the district and their decision-making process. The situation has been the latest hurdle in the ongoing chaos involving PPS, the PIL, and all the athletes caught in the crossfire. As for the coming week, there are seven games scheduled to be postponed until later in the season, barring any type of reversal from PPS on the issue of athletics. It does bear a very interesting question: Can teams still compete even if the school gets shutdown through no fault of their own? According to PPS, the answer is no.