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Stratford football can practice

Board splits over COVID-19 quarantine

The Stratford Board of Education voted 3-2 at last Wednesday’s special meeting to allow the Stratford varsity football team to begin practicing on Sunday to compete in a regional playoff home opener this Friday, Nov. 13.

School board member Brian Zaleski requested the special meeting. He wanted the school board to revisit schools superintendent Scott Winch’s decision to not allow school activities to occur during a two-week period, from Nov. 2 until Nov. 16, while all high school students are studying virtually from their homes because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the school building.

Zaleski said it wouldn’t be fair to not allow the varsity football team to start practicing again on Sunday and be eligible for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) regional playoffs, since the football players already began their quarantine one week before the entire high school started its quarantine. The varsity football team began its quarantine, following COVID- 19 contact tracing, after its away game against Rhinelander on Oct. 23.

Chris Dickinson, Stratford School Board president, said it’s unnecessary for the school board to call a special meeting every time a member isn’t happy with the school superintendent’s decision. He said the school board entrusts Winch to make good decisions on behalf of the school district. Dickinson said it isn’t fair for the school board to give the football team special treatment, compared to other school extracurriculars like the E Sports Team which isn’t allowed to compete while high school students are studying virtually from their homes.

School board member Pam Warosh said it takes “special treatment” for the school district to deal with coronavirus in 2020. She said high school students are studying virtually from home due to having a shortage of teachers in the building rather than a high number of students who are sick. Warosh, Zaleski and Jeannie Tichy voted in favor of allowing the varsity football team to resume practicing on Sunday to be eligible for the playoffs. Dickinson and Carol Ballerstein voted against the motion.

Stratford’s varsity football team was awarded a No. 1 seed in the two-week WIAA Division 4 playoff regional; the WIAA isn’t holding state championships because of the coronavirus. Stratford plays at 7 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 13, against No. 4 seed Neillsville/Granton at Tigers Stadium. Should Stratford win, it would then play on Friday, Nov. 20, at home against this Friday’s winner between No. 2 Wittenberg-Birnamwood versus No. 3 Tomahawk.