School Committee Reviews Proposed Winter Athletics Plan

The remote meeting of the School Committee on Thursday evening was called to order at 7:04 PM, and student members Julia O’Neill and Elise Andelman were welcomed aboard by Chair Stacey Raffi.  Joel Bernstein, Advisor to the HHS Student Advisory Council (SAC), briefly introduced the students.  As Junior class representatives to the SAC, these two become ex officio student representatives to the School Committee, for the purpose of sharing information about HHS goings-on.  The young women mentioned a planned virtual winter concert and the recent sports season that had worked out well for participants.

Chair Raffi noted that the Townwide PTO met, deciding to focus on supporting the Holliston community by purchasing gift cards to local businesses that would be given to Youth and Family Services and the Holliston Senior Center for distribution.

Interim Superintendent, Dr. Kustka

Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka provided a COVID update for the schools.  Presently, HHS has 45 people in quarantine (a composite of student and staff).   With a 4.16% positivity rate, the town is classified “Yellow.”  However, Dr. Kustka is very worried about the fate of the HHS winter sports programs, given that these sports are indoors and the games would be held following the holiday/winter break.

Matthew Baker, Athletic Director, presented several slides to accompany his explanation of the proposed plan for winter athletics.  (Baker noted that these presentation slides would be posted on HHS website.)  In brief, the presentation covered these items:

  • Seasons:
    • Winter Season- December 14- (no later than) February 21; No sectionals or State Tournaments per MIA
      • Fall 2 Season- February 22 (earliest possible) – (no later than) April 25
      • Spring Season- April 26 (earliest possible) – (No later than) July 3 
    • Sports moved from Winter Season: Boys and Girls Track (to Fall 2 Season); Cheer and Wrestling (to Spring Season); Swim and Dive (to Fall 2 Season);
    • Sports included in Winter season – all levels Boys and Girls Basketball and Boys Ice Hockey
      • Registration to open December 4
      • Tryouts/Practice to begin December 14
      • League Pod to include – Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medfield, Norwood, Westwood.

Baker continued, adding information about practices, games, and schedules.  Modification to sports as well as COVID management was covered.  Complicating the proposal is the fact that MIAA has not released any clear guidelines for all schools involved.  Thus some schools allow spectators, some do not, some are more flexible with season start times, and all proposals are still COVID numbers-dependent. 

Dr. Kustka recommended the Committee might “buy some time if they push out the dates.” She further proposed that students register on December 4 for basketball and hockey, and as more test result data is shared out next week, make more informed decision about the start date.  As Raffi noted, “It would be ideal to get the TVL [Tri-Valley League] all on the same timeline,” but this is still an unknown.  Dawn Naborsky asked that Baker consider opening Girls Hockey as well.  Baker agreed. 

Business Manager Keith Buday reported the Warrant for the upcoming Town Meeting includes two items proposed by the School Committee and added to the Warrant by the Select Board: $140,000 for purchase and installation of wall panels for the Field House, and $112,066 for the purchase of additional Chromebooks (due to remote schooling). Buday reported that he had submitted the first of this school year’s CARES Act claim (through September 30):  $238,215 (with part covered by FEMA), such that the end figure was $124,100.  January is the next date for claim submission.

The Grab and Go Lunch Program that the Federal Government made free to all students will continue to the end of the school year.  Buday emphasized, “Every child should grab a lunch!”  He will clarify at next week’s SC meeting whether students may take multiple lunches for the days that student will be in remote learning.

The meeting adjourned at 8:39 PM.  The next meeting (remote) of the School Committee is December 10, at 7 PM.

Yvette Cain

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