NORTH CRAWFORD -BREAKING NEWS: The Independent-Scout published the story that follows in the August 20 issue of the paper – we were notified on Thursday, August 27, by Superintendent Brandon Munson that North Crawford Football will be pushed back to the special spring season for fall athletics, which will start on March 8.
“Football will officially be pushed off until the spring; of the five teams we were scheduled to play, three of those teams postponed until the spring, leaving us really no choice but to move our season to the spring,” Munson reported. “Practice is scheduled to begin March 8, and sport-specific guidelines will be followed for all games.”
Now, back to the story we published on August 20:
Culminating discussions carried out at two board meetings, the North Crawford School Board approved moving forward with fall sports in the modified fall sports season recently announced by the Wisconsin Athletic Association (WIAA).
The approval came in the form of a roll call vote. Ed Heisz made the motion to play fall sports in the fall, and Mary Kuhn seconded the motion. With board members Jill Stefonek and Terry O’Donnell, absent, the board voted four to one to pass the motion. Ed Heisz, Mary Kuhn, Judy Powell and Tanya Forkash voted for the motion, and Jim Dworschack voted against.
“We need to put safety of students and staff first,” Dworschack said. “If we go forward with fall athletics this fall, our athletes will be exposed to athletes from other schools, and then will come back into the school for instruction – I don’t see how we can say that holding fall athletics this fall is a safe thing to do.”
North Crawford Superintendent Brandon Munson had pointed out to the board that it would be unclear what the other schools in the conference will choose regarding fall athletics, but to delay fall athletics to the spring meant running the risk that North Crawford teams would not have other teams in their conference available to play.
“If we do an effective job limiting exposure during the school day, then it will inherently make after school activities safer,” Munson said. “Also, the WIAA will allow schools to change their minds, even after the September 1 deadline if cross country and volleyball have to cease before they have played more than 50 percent of their games, or if football has played fewer than seven games.”
Reasons to play
The four board members who voted to move forward with fall athletics gave their reasons for wishing to see them move forward prior to the vote.
“I have two concerns about moving fall sports to the spring,” Mary Kuhn said. “I am concerned about our football athletes ending a spring season in May, and then returning to play in August – that might not be enough time off.”
Kuhn also expressed deep concern for the mental and emotional health of the athletes. She referenced anecdotal testimony from a daughter-in-law who works in emergency care in Grant County, who said that her department is seeing a huge uptick in teen mental health issues.
“Ultimately, no matter what the board decides about fall sports, it is the parents that will decide if they want to allow their child(ren) to participate in athletics,” Kuhn said.
Ed Heisz said he had spoken with members of the community about the issue.
“There’s no guarantee we won’t be in the same boat in the spring,” Heisz pointed out. “I understand what Jim is saying about safety, but I believe that our kids need the interaction, so I am all for playing fall sports this fall.”
Judy Powell expressed the belief that whether there is a structured activity for interaction or not, “the kids are going to get together.”
“At least with sports it will be a supervised environment,” Powell said. “I’m afraid that if we postpone, the kids are going to rebel.”
Tanya Forkash expressed agreement with Coach Mike DiPadova about rules versus guidelines.“I am super pumped about the upcoming winter sports season,” DiPadova said. “But I want to know that there will be consistent rules for all of North Crawford’s coaching staff, and for coaching staff at the schools we will be playing – I think there needs to be rules that are required, and not just guidelines. I’d also like to see us stick to playing schools that are closer versus further away.”
New WIAA seasons
The WIAA Board of Control met on Friday, August 14, and adopted the following seasons for fall, winter, fall sports played in the spring, and spring sports:
• Cross Country, Aug. 17-Oct. 26
• Football, Sept. 7-Nov. 16
• Volleyball, Sept. 7-Nov. 2
• Boys Basketball, Nov. 23-Mar. 1
• Girls Basketball, Nov. 16-Feb. 22
• Wrestling, Nov. 23-Feb. 15
Alternate Fall Sports
• Cross Country, Mar. 15-May 3
• Football, Mar. 8-May 3
• Volleyball, Feb. 22-Apr. 12
• Baseball, Apr. 19-Jun. 28
• Softball, Apr. 19-Jun. 28
• Track & Field, Apr. 19-Jun. 28
Guidelines for sports
Munson reported that conference administrators and athletic directors had been meeting regularly in the past few weeks about fall sports. As a result of those meetings, he reported that the following guidelines had been put forward:
• all participants must sign a waiver releasing district from liability
• all day school protocols will extend to after school activities (face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, etc.)
• coaches/advisors, team personnel, and participants will perform temperature checks before each practice, event, meeting, etc.
• coaches/advisors must keep a detailed daily records on sheet provided by the Activities Director
• face coverings must be worn at all times while in the building(s).
• face coverings may be removed if outdoors and six feet of physical distancing is maintained. Face coverings may also be removed during intense physical conditioning, as recommended by the CDC. Exemptions to face coverings will fall under the guidance of the CDC.
• physical distancing should be encouraged and attempted when possible.
• practices should be split up when feasible (freshman, JV, varsity, etc.)
• during practice, individual and small group drills are encouraged.
• full team time should be limited to only necessary times (game preparation, etc.)
• full contact drills should be eliminated during practice to the extent possible
• locker rooms - schedule participants to dress by grade level; players should dress as quickly as possible and leave the locker room to allow for next group to use the locker room; face coverings need to be worn at all times while in the locker room
• locker rooms will not be used when traveling to away events; players should dress at school prior to departing
• participants should provide their own water bottles; water bottles can be reﬁlled at bottle ﬁlling stations, under the direct supervision of a coach; all bottle ﬁlling stations should be disinfected daily and sanitized regularly
• all equipment should be sanitized frequently during practices/events; when possible, participants should use their own equipment
• participants will be required to wash/sanitize hands regularly before, during, and after practices/events
• all district transportation protocols extend to after school events
• suspected COVID symptoms will be handled as they are during the school day
• the district will work with County Health to perform contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID case.
Further, Munson reported that all schools in the conference had agreed that in order to eliminate any misunderstandings or issues about who would and would not be allowed to attend games, spectators will not be allowed at fall sporting events.
“This means that the district will need to purchase a live streaming option,” Munson said. “Other schools in our conference have already been using this and it has allowed family and friends who are not able to attend games to view them.”
Munson closed his comments on fall athletics with the following statement:
“All coaches/advisors, team personnel, and participants have a collective responsibility to support, enforce, and follow district guidelines and protocols,” he said. “Failure to do so may impact the initiation or continuation of the activity. Coaches/Advisors who are observed regularly disregarding district protocols may be removed from their coaching/advisor role, or have their program shut down immediately.”
In other business
In other business, the board at their Wednesday, August 12 meeting
• learned that 70 families in the district had indicated that they were choosing the full virtual option for their children. Munson said “this is more than we expected,” and this will cause the district to have additional costs. In addition, because so many students in the fourth grade will be virtual, Munson reported that it is no longer necessary to ask Shelley Biggin to teach fourth grade, and she will instead work as a virtual learning coach.
• approved a ‘COVID Handbook,’ detailing COVID-related changes to the Staff, Support Staff, Elementary, Middle School/High School, Co-Curricular and Transportation Handbooks.
In other business, the board at their Monday, August 17 meeting
• approved minor changes to the Staff, Support Staff, Elementary, Middle School/High School, Co-Curricular and Transporta-tion Handbooks. The Elementary and Middle School/High School dress codes were amended to strike a prohibition against the wearing of head scarves as some students in the district would wear burkahs to school• heard that the district’s seclusion and restraint report for the 2019-20 school year showed that there had been three incidents, involving two students, and that those two students were students with disabilities.