Last month’s vote by the Halifax County School Board to allow student athletes and coaches to return to conditioning has been brought under scrutiny by ED-8 trustee Walter Potts Jr.
Potts presented the board with policy code 2230, board meeting agenda, at Monday’s meeting of the Halifax County School Board alleging that the vote that took place was not legal because the item was not on the agenda.
Chairman Todd Moser said the school board’s attorney would be contacted Tuesday morning for clarification.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said in a phone conversation on Tuesday morning that if the attorney deems that the vote was legal then things would move forward with the return to sports and extracurricular activities and that if it is deemed illegal then the issue will return to the board.
The ED-8 trustee, who was absent from the last school board meeting, said the vote was passed illegally because that specific item of business was not on the agenda.
The policy that Potts referenced states that the board may, by a majority vote, add an item that was not on the proposed agenda before it is adopted, or by a two-thirds vote to add an item to the agenda. The last line in the policy states “Any new policy or budgetary items presented as an addendum to the published agenda are not subject to action at the same meeting.”
ED-2 trustee Roy Keith Lloyd responded to Potts’ claims stating that the return to athletics and extracurricular activities was included in superintendent’s return-to-school plan and therefore, the vote was in full accordance with the policy.
The return-to-school plan was on the agenda of the Sept. 28 meeting.
Prior to Potts’ assertion, Halifax County High School principal Michael Lewis presented the school system’s return to sports plan. Athletic Director Allen Lawter also was present to answer any questions.
The school system submitted a return to sports plan to the Virginia High School League in August.
Following Lewis’ presentation, Potts asked Lewis about providing information about the athlete’s plan to the board prior to the last school board meeting.
Lewis told Potts that he provided Lloyd the original athletes plan that had been submitted to the VHSL, not the one given on Monday night, and said he gave Lloyd enough to give the entire board.
“That didn’t count,” Potts responded.
Lewis also told Potts that he and Lawter returned to Monday evening’s meeting to provide updated information in an effort to make the entire board aware of their plans so they could be comfortable and to be “real transparent.”
ED-6 trustee and chairman Todd Moser suggested to the board that they contact their attorney. Potts responded stating that contacting the attorney was fine, and it would just cost the board more money in doing so.
The presentation from Lewis and Lawter outlined the guidelines and restrictions that would be in place for all students and coaches participating in extracurricular activities at the school.
All workouts will be optional for all student athletes and physicals are required to participate in workouts. Athletes must be in good academic standing. The plan also states that if the principal or his designee has reason to believe it is unsafe for teams to workout, they may discontinue workouts at any time without notice.
The coach to student athlete ratio will be a maximum of one coach to every 10 athletes, but Lewis said they plan to start with a one to five ratio.
Each player must go through a daily health check that will consist of a daily health check form and a temperature check. Any student with COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home and a parent or guardian will be notified.
The athletic trainer will assist with all procedures and will also help to oversee compliance. All coaches must wear protective equipment during the health screening that consists of a mask, face shield and gloves.
The school system will provide each student athlete with one face covering and one water bottle. The coaches must wear face coverings during the entire workout and the players must wear one except when they are doing physical activity. Ten feet of social distancing must be maintained at all times, which includes meetings with coaches. If ten feet cannot be maintained, face coverings will be required.
Coaches and players will be provided with cleaning supplies to make sure all areas are sanitized and kept clean. A mist duster backpack sprayer will be utilized to disinfect common areas. Locker rooms will not be used until students are back at school. Students must bring their own workout gear and keep all personal items in vehicles or at home.
Start dates for all activities hinge on the decision by the attorney.