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Jan. 25, 2021 — Suffolk County’s high-stakes “permission slip”

Back in 1976, our fifth-grade language-arts class was supposed to be taking a class trip to a roller-skating rink. Somehow, I managed to weasel my way into the trip; my parents didn’t want me to go because I had not been properly trained as how to skate.

As a result of my attendance at the class trip, I tore a favorite pair of pants.

It wasn’t until after this incident when I noticed a greater use by school administrators of permission slips that parents had to sign in order to allow, say, for a bus to transport a child from school to a museum and back.

I was thinking of this when I noticed that the state of New York opened up high-school sports, even in high-risk tiers, subject to local health departments.

One such area is Suffolk County, N.Y., the eastern half of Long Island. County executive Steve Bellone is opening up all sorts of athletic pursuits, including spring lacrosse, field hockey from the Fall 2 season, as well as football, and basketball, as announced in a wide-ranging news conference today.

A part of the bargain, however, is this form. It is called the “Champion of the Community Pledge,” but it is a high-risk permission slip, where parents and students are giving schools and school administration permission to put minor children in harm’s way.

To me, this pledge is a horrendous idea; it’s bizarre, it’s frightening, and something out of a dystopian plot from a science fiction book.

You see, the Coronavirus is still ravaging the United States, and New York in particular, to an astounding degree. Long Island (both Suffolk and Nassau County) are second only to New York City in terms of the number of people currently in the hospital with COVID-19. The percentage of COVID patients as a function of the region’s population is tied with the Finger Lakes Region for the highest percentage in the Empire State.

Should parents have to sign away a child’s right to life in order to allow him or her to play a sport? I don’t think so. It’s outrageous.

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