A group of more than 50 student-athletes at Oneida High School staged a walk-out on Tuesday as they protested the delay of fall sports.

Last week, the Oneida City School District decided to postpone its fall sports season in hopes of organizing a safer environment for fall sports later in the school year. OHS student-athletes walked out of school early on Tuesday and marched to the district office, donning face masks and holding signs, hoping that the local officials would rethink their decision to postpone fall sports.

Oneida High School senior and walk-out organizer Zack Durr told CNYCentral that while students understand there must be precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they really just want to get out and play their season.

"We want to play so badly that we're willing to do whatever it takes, truly," Durr told CNYCentral. "And it doesn't matter what we have to do. We understand that there are precautions that we need to take."

District superintendent Mary-Margaret Zehr spoke with CNYCentral and commended the student-athletes for exercising their right to peacefully protest.

"The district is incredibly proud of our students who are advocating for issues that they are passionate about," Zehr told CNYCentral. "Their actions today exemplify our mission to empower our students to be active participants in their community."

Despite Zehr's respect and admiration for the students who participated in Tuesday's walk-out, it does not sound like the district will be changing its decision to postpone fall sports.

"The district's decision regarding athletics was approached with the same health and safety concerns we applied in determining our modes of instruction," Zehr told CNYCentral. "Our current focus remains on the successful implementation of student educational programming. We strongly believe that our decision to delay the fall athletic season keeps our students, staff, families, coaches, officials, and surrounding school districts safer."

Earlier this month, The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced its decision to push back the start of high-risk sports like football and volleyball to the spring of 2021. However, in a statement released on September 16, the Oneida City School District said "school districts are now being asked to make a local decision of determining if and how to begin athletics given the current guidelines and requirements."

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