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More Suburban Students, Parents Rally For Resumption Of In-Person Classes, School Sports

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The voices of suburban parents, teachers, and coaches were getting louder Monday, calling for the option to let kids into classrooms and let student athletes onto the field.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, a rally for those demands was held in Plainfield Monday, and it was not the first.

The protesters also want sports back in the hands of the Illinois High School Association.

The IHSA late Monday was still waiting to hear back from Gov. JB Pritzker's office after sending a letter asking for control of deciding which sports can resume.

Students and parents said Monday that e-learning and a fall without many sports is taking a serious toll.

"To see it - grass overgrown and soccer goals locked up – it's hard to fathom that we're in this entire situation," said Lyons Township High School varsity soccer coach Paul Labbato.

The soccer fields were almost eerie for Labbato, who has been coaching at the school for 14 years. This was his son Cameron's senior season.

Cameron Labbato up watching his father's teams and wanted to be on his father's senior team.

"I know this is my last chance to prove myself," the high school senior said.

While all of the states that neighbor Illinois are well into their soccer seasons, Cameron is sitting on the sidelines- along with other athletes who play sports deemed high-risk such as football and volleyball.

"August 10 would have been the first practice and we would have been playing the last three weeks," Cameron Labbato said.

As of now, they're postponed to the spring.

"We would be within the safety of the school and the protocols we could take over," Paul Labbato said. "We would be very looking forward to trying to start."

Meanwhile, Barrington High School Senior Andrew Ewalt is missing his football season, which will now overlap with his lacrosse season.

He and his mom spoke to Hickey from his new makeshift classroom in their basement.

"I don't even leave my room until I'm done with school," Ewalt said, "so I'm down here basically half of my life now."

The Ewalts are part of a growing group of suburban families who want the choice to have in-person education, because e-learning isn't cutting it.

"COVID's not going away. It's here to stay," said Andrew's mother, Heather Ewalt, "and I can't imagine our lives this way forever."

They were planning to rally Monday night in Barrington - joining the voices of students and parents in who gathered in west suburban McCook on Sunday.

At last check, IHSA was still waiting for a response from the Governor's office about regaining control of decisions surrounding sports resuming.

We reached out to the Illinois Department of Public Health about the recent push to resume the fall season and optional in-person learning. The department said, "The state sports guidance under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan has not changed."

"I think it's important to show that students care about their education; they care about going back to school," said Andrew Ewalt.

"I just want to go out there and be able to enjoy my senior season," said Cameron Labbato.

On Monday, we reached out to the Gov. Pritzker's office for comment on the request from IHSA. As of 6 p.m., we were still waiting on a response.

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