As school districts navigate the everchanging path to reopening amidst the current pandemic, the state is also requiring districts to institute a plan in order to resume school sports, if deemed possible by a district.
Mountain View Superintendent Dr. Mike Elia presented highlights of the district’s resocialization of sports plan, approved by the board at the Monday, July 13, meeting.
Coaches, athletes and staff will be screened for COVID-19 before each practice, game or event. Screenings include a temperature check and anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees or above will be sent home and instructed to contact their healthcare provider.
All coaches will wear face coverings if within six-feet of another person; and when responding to game emergencies protective coverings – masks and gloves – are required.
Practices are to focus on skills while attempting social distancing as the main goal, and breaks should be staggered.
Players must have their own water bottles and food at games; athletes are to refrain from shaking hands, high fives, or fist-bumping. Students traveling by bus to away games will be required to wear face masks on the bus.
Handwashing and sanitizing will stressed with two stations installed near the restrooms at the field.
Crowd limits at games will be limited to 250, which includes spectators and teams.
All student athletes and coaches will be trained on the district’s plan and all parents/guardians will have to sign a participation waiver form prior to beginning any practice of any sport.
Even with the plan in place, the district has not yet determined what the upcoming year’s sports’ seasons will look like – or if the district’s teams will be participating.
Board member David Schulte questioned the district’s ability to field sports’ seasons safely. He said professional and college programs have players and staff that have tested positive for COVID-19. “What makes us think we can prevent the spread of it when (the professionals) with all their money, can’t?” he questioned.
“I’m not sure what we can prevent,” answered Elia, saying the district was moving as slow as possible and as safely as possible in terms of sports. “It will be a very difficult task if we decide to have sports.”
But Elia said Mountain View would not even be able to move ahead with sports if the district did not have a plan in place.
Dr. Mark Lemoncelli, principal of the Jr-Sr High School, told the board that students will not be able to use their cell phones during the day. Currently, Mountain View students are allowed to use their phones for 30 minutes during their lunch period.
Lemoncelli told the board that with cell phones in use during lunch there is “not a whole lot of interaction” between them. “That’s not what we are trying to do,” he said. “We want to foster interacting with other positively.”
Board member Mike Barhite said that there would be parents concerned with being able to reach students in case of an emergency.
Lemoncelli said students would be able to come to the office and use their phones there, or use the office phone, if needed.
The principal also said parents are asking about face masks and the dress code policy. He said they are being asked to adhere to the norms of no vulgar language, etc. on the masks.
Elementary Principal Dr. Christopher Lake updated the board on COVID-19 measures underway in the school. He said that currently the largest class has 26 students which allows for social distancing in the room of about 4.5-feet. The CDC recommendation is 3-4-feet apart, it was noted, and the state is calling for 6-feet of social distancing.
But, Lake said, the classroom size may change as a number of students with health concerns – or with a family member that has a health issue – plan to move the district’s NOLA cyber school. “The families do want to stay at Mountain View,” he said. “We really need to have it out in the community that Mountain View has its own cyber school,” Lake added. The cost to the district to educate a student through NOLA is significantly less than if the student enrolls in another cyber-charter- which can cost up to $37,000 per student.
Lake also reviewed how students would be using the playground during recess and ways they would travel through the halls to avoid passing one another.
Director of Special Education Stephanie Anuszewski said that COVID-19 measures will keep parents from entering the school buildings which creates an obstacle for meetings with parents of students with an IEP.
She said the department’s plan is to conduct those meetings using Google Meet and also said the district would “meet parents where they are” in terms of technology and make every accommodation possible in regard to the IEP meetings- including the possibility of using a telephone conference call.
Superintendent Elia said it is the district’s intention to start school on time with a goal to make the students and staff “feel as safe and supported as possible.”
But, he said, the district is also planning for “everything and anything.”
Elia said that as the start of the school year draws near, parents should expect more frequent communication and updates from the school district.