The urge to breathe the free air of a post-pandemic world is a strong one, and the Janesville School Board was not immune from that desire Tuesday night.
The board voted to allow student football players and their coaches eight tickets for family and friends for the Parker-Craig football game scheduled Friday.
The limit had been two tickets for football, varsity soccer and track, and the change applies to those athletes and coaches, as well.
The administration on Tuesday asked the board to increase the number to four. Board member John Hanewall, in his first board meeting, suggested six to eight tickets, saying the crosstown rivalry game will likely be the highlight of the players’ season and that he would like to allow grandparents, for example, the opportunity to watch the youngsters play.
Hanewall said it is highly unlikely Monterey Stadium would be packed.
Board member Kevin Murray then moved to make the number unlimited for all sports. Hanewall supported Murray.
Board member Michelle Haworth said if the change is made, then the district would have to revisit restrictions placed on high school graduations. Garner agreed.
“I’m for opening it up a little more so we can start to feel a little more normal,” board member Karl Dommershausen said, but after several members voice concerns, Dommershausen proposed limiting tickets to eight per player.
Board member Lisa Hurda said lifting the limits could attract a lot of students, many of whom would not be vaccinated. She noted a recent Gazette story about a student who was still suffering “long haul” COVID-19 symptoms.
New board member Elizabeth Paull said lifting the limits would send mixed messages to students and that she would hate to have an outbreak caused by lax conditions.
The eight-ticket limit passed 8-1 with Murray voting no.
The motion specified that social distancing and masks for everyone would still be required, but Assistant Superintendent Scott Garner said the district doesn’t have the staff to enforce the rules, so they would have to be followed on “the honor system.”
In a separate motion, the board agreed 9-0 to leave future adjustments to COVID-19 sports rules to the administration. Garner said the administration would make adjustments by following the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local health departments.
In another COVID-19 vote, the board voted 9-0 to allow organizations such as youth sports clubs to use district facilities starting June 7. The organizations have been barred from district facilities.
The organizations may begin applying to use facilities May 13. They risk losing the privilege if they don’t follow Rock County Health Department and school district guidelines for group gatherings.
Members of the public are still banned from the previous practices of walking in high school fieldhouses and swimming laps in the pools.
Pandemic precautions were on the mind of Theresa Griffin, who asked to speak to the board but refused to wear a mask, district spokesman Patrick Gasper said.
Officials did not allow her to speak after she declined to wear a mask. Gasper said the district was following county health department guidance.
Griffin left a written statement in which she complained that her granddaughter got headaches from wearing a mask at school and claimed officials have no legal basis for requiring masks. She asked the district to make masks optional.
In other business, the board elected a new president, Cathy Myers, and vice president, Jim Millard, both without opposition. The board also voted for a new clerk, Michelle Haworth, and treasurer, Greg Ardrey, also without opposition.