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Buildings closed to youth sports

Athens school board will review decision later in December

The Athens Board of Education on Monday voted to keep Athens school buildings closed to non-school district sponsored youth sports teams and community groups at least until its next meeting on Dec. 21.

School board members agreed it would be too difficult to monitor whether non-school district sponsored youth sports teams or community groups are following the Marathon County Health Department’s strict cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but said they were willing to revisit the issue.

The board will decide at its Dec. 21 meeting whether or not to let nonschool district sponsored youth sports teams and community groups begin using its facilities based on the county health department’s weekly update on the amount of positive COVID-19 cases in Athens.

Joy Redmann, Athens Elementary School principal, told school board members she is concerned about the her students, who are in cohorts during the school day to prevent the spread of COVID-19, being able to mingle together during community team sports practices in the future.

Athens School Board member Tom “Chummo” Ellenbecker told Redmann if the school board decides to let youth sports teams begin practicing, it’s possible the elementary school students in basketball and wrestling could practice in small groups each night of the week.

The Athens school board said it would allow any student in the school district to use the school buildings, no matter if they are public or private school students.

In other school news:

_ The school board voted to allow the Athens High School varsity wrestling team form a cooperative with up to four other high school teams to compete in regular-season dual matches this season.

Stratford is the only Marawood Conference wrestling squad that can fill all 14 weight classes in a match and is requesting other conference teams form a cooperative for only this season, so its wrestlers can compete in matches. Stratford doesn’t want to travel, for example, to Athens if only a handful of its wrestlers can compete. Athens only has six high school wrestlers this season.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is only allowing varsity wrestling teams to compete in one dual match each week. Should the WIAA decide to hold regional, sectional and state tournaments, then Athens’ temporary varsity wrestling cooperative would be disbanded so its wrestling team could compete on its own in Division 3.

_ Athens School Board members Shanon Peel, Tom Ellenbecker and Tamey Zenner are up for re-election this spring. They have until Monday, Dec. 28, to file their notice of non candidacy. School district residents need to file their papers to run for election before Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, to appear on the ballot for the election on Tuesday, April 6.

_ The board voted at a special meeting on Nov. 2 to mandate all school district students and staff start wearing face masks as of Monday, Nov. 16. The school board also voted to eliminate the modified traditional schedule option for middle/high school students. Middle/high school students now only have the option of either attending school full time in person or full time virtually from home.