ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Demonstrators rallied outside the St. Louis County Government building Wednesday chanting, “Let them play.” It’s become a familiar chorus in recent days from parents and students who believe current health orders in St. Louis County are too restrictive.
Michelle Growe is a St. Louis County mother who said she’s traveled to St. Charles County so her son can legally play a sport currently prohibited in St. Louis County.
“If you want to keep losing money in St. Louis County for us to go elsewhere, if that’s what we have to do then that’s what we have to do,” said Growe. “I just want these kids back in sports and back in school.”
Growe and other parents believe the mental and physical health of students are suffering because of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re asking for the county to listen to us as parents, to listen to our children, and get them back to being kids,” said Jennifer Tegethoff.
The order regarding youth sports has resulted in the cancellation of many fall sports for area youth. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has said the restrictions are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 so restrictions can be lifted.
St. Louis County reports the highest rate of transmission is within the younger population and reports 5 episodes of transmission involving students linked to practices or games. Each episode involves at least 2 students, according the county health department. Page’s administration has maintained certain youth sports are considered a high-risk activity.
Jay Kanzler is with the law firm Witzel Kanzler & Dimmitt. We asked him what consequences a team could face if they defied the health order and played a sport in St. Louis County that is currently prohibited.
“They could be issued citations,” said Kanzler. “It’s a misdemeanor but a misdemeanor still carries up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.”
He said schools and sports organizations could also face civil consequences if they defy the health order regarding youth sports and something goes wrong. Kanzler said the argument would be, “You were told not to do it, you ignored that, and people got sick or died.”