Rib Lake eyes co-op changes for football program
The future of a longstanding partnership between Prentice and Rib Lake school districts is in question. At the December 10 Rib Lake School Board meeting board members asked for the football cooperative to be brought back to the January meeting for additional discussion.
The two schools have partnered in a football cooperative since 1988. District administrator Rick Cardey said it was being brought up now as part of the regular renewal of the agreement. “We have good partners in Prentice and the goals line up pretty well,” Cardey said of interactions between the two schools.
Cardey noted that with changes in conference alignment this year, the team was competitive on most nights with some disruptions due to COVID-19.
Cardey also alerted board members that the current gold-colored uniform jerseys will have to be replaced because they do not match new color requirement rules.
One of the issues coming up is the possible consideration of a move to eight-player football from the traditional 11-player. The number of eight-player schools is increasing in the region, as an effect of this the distance the Rib Lake/Prentice team has had to travel in order to play has increased.
“I would like us to stay closer,” said board member Stacy Tlusty. She said she has heard from parents who had concerns about the distances.
“You would have an awful hard time to convince me to stay in the conference,” said board member Rollie Thums, expressing displeasure at having the athletes traveling up to three hours away for conference games.
Cardey said the district has looked at eight-player in the past but had decided against it because of the travel times. Now with more schools going that route, it is more feasible. Cardey still recommended the district stay with the long-established cooperative.
“Why would we co-op with eight-man?” Tlusty asked.
Tlusty expressed concern with making the investment in buying new uniforms at this time. “I don’t want to buy a whole set of new uniforms for a co-op and a year later we don’t want to be in a cooperative,” Tlusty said. “This is why I am afraid of doing this right away.”
It was decided to bring it back for more discussion in January.
Rib Lake will continue to take a more cautious approach when it comes to COVID-19. After a lengthy discussion, board members chose to keep a 14-day quarantine in place for those who tested positive for or who came into close contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19 rather than adopting a shorter quarantine period allowed by the CDC and state health officials.
According to school nurse Judy LeMaster, the data from this fall shows that any students or staff who have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 has come from the outside rather than anything that is happening at the about four times,” Cardey said.
With the system in place and working, board members were hesitant to want to reduce the quarantine period at the exchange of increasing risk.
LeMaster noted that 14 days is a long time, but that with going back sooner there is risk based on the long incubation period of the virus before any symptoms are seen.
The CDC guidelines that allow a shorter quarantine period, primarily are for people who do not show symptoms. LeMaster questioned if those who wanted to end their quarantine early actually are symptom free or are saying they are. While agreeing that the longer quarantine time can pose a headache to some, there is concern that if someone who did not show symptoms until 11 days after exposure could bring it into the school and expose many more people.
“That is the whole purpose to minimize any social contact,” LeMaster said.
“These students belong in this school as much as we can get them here,” Thums said, noting they need to work to make sure the students can be there.
“I could get it after 12 minutes, three minutes or one minute of exposure,” said board president Steve Martin. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said about keeping the quarantine process that has been working for the district in place. He said that so far everyone has done a terrific job and wanted to avoid other variables being thrown into the mix.
“I don’t want to have to send every kid home because schools. She said this is in large part due to the efforts of staff to encourage social distancing and other factors.
Cardey told board members that he had been in close contact with LeMaster throughout the start of the school year and worked together on making the contacts for the district when exposures occur. “My running joke with my wife is who is this Judy who calls me every weekend
we wanted to take a short cut,” said board member Jackie Mohr.
“I am not comfortable with changing anything,” she said. Other board members agreed and will revisit the issue as part of the monthly review of COVID-19 concerns.
In related COVID-19 business, board members voted to continue to keep the gyms and school facilities closed to outside groups including booster sports organizations to reduce the likelihood of infection.
“If we can’t allow fans to come to our games we shouldn’t allow outside groups to come in,” Mohr said.
The only exception to not allowing outside groups was the board allowed the school building to be used for a community blood drive scheduled for December 30. The drive was scheduled to be held at the fire hall, but there is not enough room there without removing the trucks. Cardey said he supported this event because it will be taking place while the building is closed over Christmas break.
Board members also authorized continuing to pay employees extended sick leave up to 80 hours for dealing with either being sick with COVID-19 or caring for a family member with COVID-19. According to Cardey the Families First Coronavirus Response Act granted the additional time in the beginning of the year, but expires at the end of December. Cardey said he felt it was important for all staff to have access to it if necessary. “It is a commitment to our employees who are coming every day,” he said.
In other business, board members:
_ Approved increasing the hourly rate for substitute support staff positions to $12.50 per hour. The district will keep in place a provision for longterm subs that after 10 consecutive days in the same position they will go to the base regular employee rate of $14.21 per hour. Cardey had asked for the change due to issues with finding workers willing to take the substitute support staff positions.
_ Approved allowing Cardey to increase the contract time for the school nurse during the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic.
_ Received updates on student testing and achievements at each of the schools. “Kids are hitting their goals. I am pleased with the growth I am hearing,” said elementary principal Jon Dallmann.