Return to Play

Dear Parents,

Below is a letter addressed to Governor Brown that emphasizes the importance of providing co-curricular opportunities for Oregon High School student-athletes this school year. The Oregon Coaches Association provided the letter, and it contains information, data, and research showing how high school athletics can be done safely and productively.   We are attempting to gather as many signatures in support of the letter as possible. 


To provide an electronic signature to endorse the "Return to Play" campaign letter, complete the form at the following link: .  

Please note that after submitting the form, you may see a white blank page. That is normal, and you should assume your response was recorded.

In completing the form, we also ask that you list your local state representative and senator. Bobby Levy represents District 58 in the House of Representatives, and Bill Hansell represents District 29 in the Senate.

We believe one letter with a large number of supporters will have a more significant impact. With the proposed February 8 start date for football practice, we would like to have signatures collected no later than January 26. On January 27, we will be sending the letter and collected signatures to the following state decision-makers, including your local state representatives and senators.

  • Governor Brown
  • Patrick Allen – OHA Director
  • COVID-19 Reopening Team
  • Oregon State Senators & House of Representatives from your local area



RTP Campaign Letter:

To:                          Honorable Governor Kate Brown

                                cc: ((Select Oregon House of Representatives & State Senators))


From:                     Oregon "Return to Play" Campaign


Re:                          Request for Return to Co-Curricular Activities for High School Students by February 8


Date:                     January 12, 2021

Thank you for your leadership and hard work over the past nine months fighting Covid-19. This has been a challenging time, and your team's efforts have slowed the spread of the virus in our state and helped keep Oregonians safe.  We are grateful for all the extraordinary efforts made by you, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Oregon Department of Education. The Oregon "Return to Play" Campaign represents Oregon High School Athletic/Activity Coaches and the 120,000 student-athletes they work with daily.


Governor Brown, we share your desire to get students back in classrooms as soon as possible.  Beyond the classroom, however, we respectfully request that you consider revising OHA and ODE guidance to allow all high school co-curricular programs to resume by February 8, so that our student-athletes will have a chance to participate in their most cherished activities this school year.  If we miss that date, seasons will be canceled and lost forever, and our student-athletes will not be able to benefit from crucial activities they love and need. Whether it is playing football, competing in dance, or singing in the choir, these co-curricular activities are essential engagements for our young people offering crucial connections to peers, adults, and communities.


Participation in co-curricular activities has been proven to improve social skills in our young people. It correlates to improved academic performance in the classroom.  These activities relieve stress, broaden horizons, and improve physical conditioning and overall health.  Participation in co-curricular activities is not just beneficial for our students; they often are among the most enjoyable, impactful, and educational experiences our students have during their time in high school. These are just facts. Activities matter.


We believe students should be allowed to participate in activities this' 20-21 school year for the following reasons:


·         Our students are extremely vulnerable right now!  Teen anxiety, depression, and suicide have been amplified by distance learning and the isolation related to COVID-19[1]. The cancellation of activities this school year will only further exacerbate this serious issue among Oregon high school students. Sadly, the leading cause of death in Oregon for those under 24 is suicide.  According to the CDC, there have been 163 total deaths from COVID-19 nationwide in school-age children 5-17 years old[2], while there are roughly 3,000 teen suicides annually.  Involvement in sports and other activities will help us reduce this awful trend.


·         In Oregon, not a single young person aged 0-19 has died from COVID-19.[3] It is known that the virus attacks different age groups differently, and COVID-19 is not a disease that kills our young people, except in the rarest of circumstances.


·         High school sports have not spread COVID-19, according to studies. A University of Wisconsin study[4], for example, researched 207 schools, 30,000 athletes, 16,000 practices, and more than 4,000 games. No sports were found to have a higher incidence rate of COVID-19 overall than the 14-17-year-olds in their community's more significant population—none of the cases that were found resulted in hospitalization or death.  Of the 209 cases that were diagnosed, only one case was attributed to participation in sports.


·         States that are allowing their high school students to participate in activities are doing so safely and successfully.  Coaches and instructors across the country are diligently following state and local safety guidelines and protocols. Much like in-person schools have been found to be safer for students and teachers than the communities within which they reside[5], the transmission rates among high school athletes in places like Utah are being found to be lower than the general population due to excellent and motivated compliance among all participants.[6]


·         35 states have already played football in 2020.[7] Just because everybody else is doing it does not make it wise, but the fact that 70% of the states have successfully held seasons in one of the activities considered to among the "highest risk" – football – is certainly encouraging.  Moreover, we have all of their collective experiences and lessons to learn from as we build a safe plan for our student-athletes to participate in activities in Oregon.


·         Oregon's coaches and adult mentors are ready and eager to safely lead our students who want to play.  We want to be part of the solution. Our high school coaches are professional, well-trained, committed servants who want the best for kids and who will ensure safety is a priority. Currently, the reality is a chunk of kids are playing outside their shut down school programs, doing so in private and/or for-profit settings with far less adherence to safety measures. These groups will travel to and from Oregon to play games and show wildly different commitment levels to safety. Bringing these activities back into our Oregon schools will ensure far greater oversight and safety measures, and it will be far better for overall community health.


These are obviously complex times involving many tough choices. Among the many things we appreciate about the State of Oregon's approach is that you have been willing to adapt as we learn more and as time moves forward.  We are at a crucial moment for Oregon's 120,000 athletes involved in co-curricular activities. If we do not allow them to participate in co-curricular activities, literally thousands of positive experiences and inclusive interactions will be lost forever. That would be nothing short of tragic. These kids have suffered and sacrificed immensely for the good of all. We must consider their health and well-being, too.  With the benefit of time and the experiences of other states, we now know we can safely conduct high school activities. With the utmost respect, we urge you to work with the OHA to allow our kids to participate in all activities – utilizing proper protocols and safety measures – on or before February 8 so the OSAA can offer a full slate of activities this school year. Their seasons will be truncated at this point, but the joy and benefit this action would bring to our students, families, and communities would be immeasurable… and healthy!


Thank you in advance, Governor Brown, for your time and consideration.

[1] COVID-19 Linked to Rising Suicide Rates Among Teens, The Daily Signal, 9/29/20 ( )

[2] CDC COVID Data Tracker, Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 1/7/21 ( )

[3] Oregon's COVID-19 Case Rates by Demographic Group, Oregon Health Authority, 1/7/21 (!vizhome/OregonCOVID-19CaseDemographicsandDiseaseSeverityStatewide/DemographicData )

[4] "Study: High School Sports Have Not Spread COVID-19," Athletic Business, 10/20 ( )

[5] "Schools are not spreading Covid-19. This new data makes the case," Washington Post, 11/20/20. ( )

[6] The statistics behind why 'we all need to start acting like high school athletes' in fight against COVID-19,, 11/17/20 ( )

[7] Where the start of high school sports stands in all 50 states amid pandemic, MaxPreps, 10/14/20 ( )