SCHOOL BOARD SETS WINTER SPORTS PLAN
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The Freeman Public School Board voted unanimously Monday night, Nov. 9, to establish its winter sports attendance policy — at least for the time being — in anticipation of the basketball and wrestling seasons set to begin next month.
The board agreed 5-0 to allow fans to attend without restriction with the exception of students in grades K-4 who do not have a sibling competing. That applies to varsity/junior varsity and middle school athletics.
The action followed considerable discussion among board members and administration that included comments from sixth-grader Riley Gall, who along with friend and classmate Oliver Waltner spearheaded a petition drive during the volleyball season that challenged the board’s decision not to allow middle school students to attend home JV and varsity matches.
Gall noted that students in grades 9-12 were allowed to attend the matches “and we thought that was unfair,” he said. “Everybody in all the grades agreed to it.”
K-8 Principal Shane Voss and Superintendent Kevin Kunz both said they were uncomfortable supervising athletic events with the potential of so many people in the gym at one time — an administrator must be present at all times — but would do their best to deal with it in light of the board’s 5-0 decision.
“We’re just going to have to go with it,” Kunz said. “We’re going to have to figure it out.”
Several board members said they would do what they could to help.
“Can I take your place?” board member Mark Miller asked Voss, who was particularly concerned about the risk of expsoure given his daily duties at Freeman Elementary. “Whatever we can do, I’d be willing to help.”
Also Monday night, Kunz told the board he should not have used the word “quarantine” in response to the close contact cases among students in grades 6-9 last week that resulted in remote learning until Nov. 18. Rather, he said, he should have used the words “school exclusion” when reaching out to families following a positive COVID-19 case involving one of the teachers.
A quarantine directive comes from the Department of Health, he said, while a district can only determine when and for how long to exclude students from in-person instruction and school-related activites, like locally-hosted practices and games.
Kunz asked that families respect the request, but understood the situation. “You’re trusting people to do the right thing at the end of the day,” he said.
That includes how families deal with two major sporting events this week — Tuesday’s SoDak 16 and the Class 9A title game on Thursday.