By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Rallies were held Saturday calling for the reopening of New York City public schools and after-school sports and activities.

Thousands of people from the youth sports and athletic community gathered in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.

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Public middle and high schools in the city were shut down in November. Athletics and extracurricular activities were also banned.

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Advocates say the shutdown is having a major impact on students.

“Sports serves as not just a coach-sport activity thing. It serves as a developmental tool,” said Alex Coombs, with About U NYC.

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“These kids need these extracurricular activities. They need the sports to keep them going,” one woman said.

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“Student athletes have a limited window of opportunity to showcase their athletic skills as a ticket to greater academic opportunities,” said George Lanese, with About U NYC.

“I feel that students are being kept out on proceeding their future,” one speaker said.

In January, the state issued new guidelines allowing school and sports to resume, but it’s up to local officials to give the green light.

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CBSNewYork Team