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October 21, 2020

9/25/2020 1:44:00 PM
Highland moves Homecoming to Friday, Oct. 2 Board reviews fall sports procedures
At the regular Highland Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9, the board members received an update regarding Homecoming, which will now be held on Friday, Oct. 2 versus Ithaca in a scaled-down format due to COVID-19. The original plan was to have it when playing Riverdale on Saturday, Sept. 26; however, their school district has opted to have football in the spring.
Activities will take place that Friday starting at 1:30 p.m. with the coronation, field show, pep rally, and lip sync. The parade will be held at 4:30 p.m. after school - during this event, the throwing of candy is strongly discouraged. The football game will start at 7 p.m., and it will also be parents night and senior night as the board and team is unsure about the future of the season. Finally, a gathering with music for Highland High School students only will take place outside after the game from 10 p.m. to midnight. "We need to do what we can for the kids and get as many events in as safely as possible," stated Highland Board President Mike Dreischmeier.
If the game is unable to happen due to COVID-19 restrictions on the part of Highland, the entire event will be cancelled; however, Homecoming events besides the football game will still happen if Ithaca is unable to participate in the game due to COVID-19.
Highland Athletic Director Lynn Michek was on-hand to give an update and review of fall sports procedures. Highland will be going forward with fall football and girls volleyball. The first volleyball game was at home on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and the first football game is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 25 at DeSoto. Michek explained that regulations and thoughts have been rapidly changing as the fall sports season looks to get started. There are some big changes for this year.
Student athletes will be given passes (two for each volleyball athlete for both home and away games and four for each football athlete for both home and away games). These passes are for athletes on the roster only - nobody else will be allowed into the place of play except for media and coaches along with volunteers. Spectators MUST be masked at all events, including outdoor football games; additionally, volleyball athletes will be wearing masks while playing - everyone will be masked. Social distancing will be maintained as well.
There will be no concessions, and no admission charged. Athletes will wave to each other at the end of competition. There will be separate entrances for home and away spectators, and each side will sit separately. There will be a link to livestream events on the school's webpage. Balls will be sanitized and cleaned between each play. There will be only conference play this season with seven games for football and 12 matches for volleyball. Middle school volleyball will be starting in the fall as well; they will do some practicing/scrimmaging and might have some games later in the season if possible. ATVs/UTVs will be allowed in the fenced football area ONLY if they have tickets. "A lot of different scenarios can come up, and we'll make it work they best we can," Michek said.
Bob Sylva with Precision Control was at the board meeting to discuss the possibility of installing a system with the school's HVAC system that generates ions that infiltrates viruses/diseases/allergens/bacteria/etc. - the thought is that this could help with COVID and potentially even long after to help with other viruses such as the flu. "Overall, it [the system] has a good reputation of keeping the air clean," explained Sylva. "It's been around for 10 years, so the kinks are already worked out. It's a good investment for the future." The system is already in many schools or will be in many schools in the next upcoming weeks; moreover, it is in all the UW facilities throughout campus and in their clinics - it's being installed in many government buildings as well. The ions within the system are continuously pumped out into the air, and the system itself is self-cleaning, meaning there isn't a lot of maintenance and it will last a long time. The proposed cost of the system is around $44,000, and there is a four-week waiting list right now for installation. The board voted to table this item and send it to the building and grounds committee for further review.
In his report to the board Principal Josh Tarrell explained that he is proud of the kids and how they're doing so far - they've been wearing their masks appropriately and social distancing well. However, virtual learning doesn't seem to be going the smoothest, but he is hopeful that it will get easier as the school year progresses. "Teachers feel like they're teaching to two classes - virtual students and in-person students. They feel a bit overwhelmed," he said. "Things are getting better slowly, and we are trying some different things. Online learning is hard." Last Friday was the first virtual Friday for the district, and both he and Superintendent Bird think these days are crucial as they are good for practice as every day in-person isn't guaranteed.
In other business:
• The board approved the purchase of an enclosed trailer with the Gridiron Club paying half the total cost which was $5,500. While purchased by both the school and the club, the understanding is that it is the school's only, and any school organization, grade, etc. can use it - it's not just the football team's. The thought for the purchase of this is due to having increased equipment for sanitizing and cleaning because of COVID-19. The trailer will be bought from Don's Tire and will be bright red.
• Long-term substitute pay will be increased from $110/day to $160/day. Superintendent Bird explained that there is a lot more work to being a long-term sub than being just a sub for a few days - much more planning involved. Additionally, subs who start out short-term but are then switched to long-term status will be given retroactive pay. The daily rate will stay at $110/day.
• Free meals for ALL students through the National School Lunch Program started on Monday, Sept. 14 and runs through December 31. Everyone will get free breakfast and lunch regardless of income, but this doesn't cover any food extras or milk breaks.
• The Highland Tractor Pullers donated $500 to the district in thanks for allowing the club to use the school's bleachers during their recent tractor pull. The Todd Michek family donated water bottles to the district for all students as the fountains are turned off, but not the water bottle feature. Finally, Nancy McCullick donated special masks and covers for students and their instruments in band.
• John Ross Linscheid was approved as a volunteer football coach.
• Lisa Johnson was hired as a special education aide.
• The first reading of policy 5200 - attendance revision was passed. This was a major revision allowing the hours of instruction to include virtual time as well in-person instruction.
• The minutes from Aug. 12, 2020 and current expenses and vouchers payable were approve.
The next regular board meeting is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.

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