CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield school board on Monday night approved the district’s health and safety plan to resume summer sports and extracurricular activities.
According to Superintendent Terry Struble, before coaches can resume practices, they must first submit a plan that meets all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state Department of Health COVID-19 emergency guidance.
“This is for pre-season types of activities,” he said, “like summer conditioning, workouts, camps, etc., … not back-to-season workouts for our fall sports … and it’s not Friday night under the lights, not yet.”
Plans will initially be reviewed with Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School Athletic Director Robert Gearhart and Principal Heather Prestash. Prestash must approve plans and submit them to Struble for final approval.
Last week, Struble said coaches will be required to wear protective facial masks at all times, unless they have a health condition, like asthma, or are running with their team during conditioning.
However, he said if a coach is playing a supervisory role or giving players instructions, they will be required by the district to wear a mask as much as possible.
So far as the school’s facility usage, he said they will be limited to 50 percent capacity and students will be spread out throughout the campus.
Last week, Struble also said that all students will be required to submit to a temperature screening upon arrival and any student(s) displaying signs of illness will be sent home.
Struble said facility usage will depend upon the district’s sports/activity schedule, as well as the availability of the custodial staff to do “deep cleaning” and disinfecting afterwards.
When asked by board member Gail Ralston, he said each sport or program will have to document any cleaning of equipment or facilities, and the same will be required of the district’s custodians.
Also, when asked by Ralston, he said students will have access to locker rooms and school facilities to wash their hands as frequently as possible.
Struble said there will be attendance logs for each sport/activity, so that in the event a student would become ill with COVID-19, the district would be able to identify any students, coaches or staff who may have also been exposed.
Finally, he said all students and their parents/guardians will be required to sign a waiver, acknowledging that while the district is striving to keep its students as safe as possible, they are still potentially exposing themselves to the virus and other illness.
Concerning the district’s waiver, board member Greg Clarke asked if the district had “backup” on the state level that it will be held harmless from any resultant illness.
Solicitor Carl Beard Jr. said the waiver had been vetted through the Beard Legal Group in Altoona and shared with more than 100 school districts state-wide.
He said there wasn’t any document that could be created to provide “absolute immunity” because there are a few layers of separation between the district and the coach, the student, etc.
He said in enacting a plan, there needs to documentation of when and how procedures are being carried out. “That’s one layer of protection, your health and safety plan is another layer of protection.”
Clarke said he was most concerned because many cleaning procedures were preceded by the word “should,” when he really believed it should be worded as “must” or “will.”
Beard said while he understood Clarke’s concern 100 percent, the board should also understand that the change wouldn’t leave much discretion to coaches or school staff.
After Struble reviewed the plan, he recommended that: sports/programs will be required to create and implement cleaning schedules for all facilities; facilities will be cleaned prior to arrival for workouts; and weight equipment will be wiped down before and after individual use by the individual.
In the health and safety plan itself, he recommended adding that cleaning records will be maintained for facilities and equipment that are used on a daily basis.
Clarke said the recommendations took care of his concerns and gave the district added protection. “I think the cleaning has to be a commandment.”
The board then unanimously voted, 8-0, to approve the health and safety plan with the recommended language revisions.