Ohio proposals would let high schoolers redo pandemic year

Jun 23, 2021, 11:07 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2021, 12:29 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The pandemic made Jake Gregg’s senior year of high school very different than anticipated. He got by enough to graduate, but now the 19-year-old Ohioan wants a redo.

The Wheelersburg quarterback aspires to play football in college and wants what coronavirus restrictions took away last year: the chance to visit football camps and meet college coaches, to play a full finale season in front of thousands of fans, to absorb more from classes and elevate his grades that plummeted during remote and hybrid learning.

Some Ohio lawmakers are proposing it’s only fair to offer Gregg and other students that second chance if they want it. But the Ohio High School Athletic Association isn’t on board.

Under a measure introduced this week by GOP Sen. Andrew Brenner, of Delaware, and Democratic Sen. Teresa Fedor, of Toledo, students who just finished their senior year could re-enroll in 12th grade this fall to take the same classes and get another round of eligibility for sports.

“It’s really important not only for student-athletes but for all students that they get this done, because it was a pretty rough year,” said Gregg, who has advocated for that flexibility.

An separate House bill sponsored by Reps. Dontavius Jarrells, D-Columbus, and Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, would establish a program in which high schoolers could seek their district’s permission to repeat or supplement the courses they took this school year, and pursue additional eligibility for athletics.

Kentucky already created a similar program for students, and Pennsylvania parents might be able to have a child repeat a grade if the governor signs off on legislation that lawmakers passed Thursday.

It’s unclear how many students around Ohio might voluntarily retake the year if given the opportunity. Gregg said he knows of 50 or 60 interested from his and other districts in southern Ohio. Many of them are student-athletes, but some say they want a do-over to boost their academic record or have a more normal last year with friends, he said.

Brenner said he hopes to get the proposal added to the state budget bill being considered this week, but he isn’t sure about the likelihood of success on that. Even if the measure doesn’t become law, he said he hopes the proposal “sends a signal to local school districts that, hey, if you’ve got some seniors from last school year who want to repeat, let them repeat.”

Existing law gives Ohio school boards local control to govern their districts, but there’s no specific language prohibiting or authorizing such voluntary re-enrollment, said Will Schwartz, deputy director of legislative services for the Ohio School Boards Association. OSBA thinks such decisions are best made by the local boards, but the Senate legislation would force them to allow it, Schwartz said.

He said the proposals could present funding and implementation challenges for districts that are already setting their staffing, class schedules and transportation routes for fall. The extracurricular eligibility aspect also could raise concerns that students returning voluntarily might bump another student out of a spot, Schwartz said.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association said it wouldn’t support legislation to give students a voluntary fifth year of athletic eligibility. In an emailed statement Thursday, it said “the impact of older athletes competing at the high school level should be considered.”

It noted that nearly all OHSAA member schools competed in every sport during the 2020-21 school year.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic durin...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match. The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at […]
1 day ago
Italy's Federica Brignone speeds down the course during the super G portion of an alpine ski, women...
Associated Press

Brignone leads combined race at worlds; Shiffrin 0.96 behind

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second. Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fans welcome Manchester City players before the start of the English Premier League soccer m...
Associated Press

Man City accused of breaching Premier League financial rules

LONDON (AP) — Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of breaching a slew of financial rules from 2009-18, during which the club became a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The league released a long statement detailing a list of alleged breaches of […]
1 day ago
Field hockey players of a local club attend a training session, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Sports pitch for level playing field in cricket-mad Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On Islamabad’s outskirts, burly men bind together in a scrum on a rugby pitch that has seen better days. The sign bearing the club’s name is worn. The floodlights are too costly to use, given high electricity prices and the paltry $135 total that the club earns in membership fees every month. […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) poses for a photo with the championship trophy after...
Associated Press

Truex wins NASCAR’s sloppy return to Los Angeles Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won NASCAR’s return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for its season-opening exhibition race — a sloppy Sunday night extravaganza in which the Wiz Khalifa halftime show might have been the most entertaining part of the event. Truex took the lead with 25 laps to go in the […]
1 day ago
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against ...
Associated Press

Morant says friend banned from arena over Pacers dispute

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant tweeted Sunday that a friend of his has been banned from games at FedExForum for a year as a result of a confrontation between his supporters and members of the Indiana Pacers organization a week earlier. The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals have been banned from […]
1 day ago
Ohio proposals would let high schoolers redo pandemic year