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Winter sports season will resume on Dec. 14

On Monday night the Altoona Area School Board voted to resume the district’s winter sports season on Dec. 14.

The board approved a “Virtual Athletics Plan” presented by AASD Athletics Director Phil Riccio to begin the season. The plan has the following measures:

– New restrictions on locker room and team room use.

– Athletes must shower at home (with the exception of the wrestling team).

– Athletes are to bring their own water to practice.

– Athletes are to wash all of their equipment at home daily.

– Coaches are to screen players and take temperature prior to events or practices.

– Masks are required when not competing.

The plan includes specific schedules and instructions on where to enter/exit buildings for each winter sports team, in order to avoid inter-team contact. Coaches are responsible for disinfecting team equipment.

The plan also notes that teams must practice five days prior to their first scrimmage, and have 15 practices prior to their first competition. There are to be no more than six practices a week.

Board Member Ron Johnston was at first skeptical of the plan, though later decided to vote for it after some discussion and clarifications.

“I can’t tell a student you have no in-person contact with your teacher, and then allow an athlete in-person contact with a coach,” he said, initially.

Board Member Kelly Irwin Adams responded to Johnston, saying she was under the impression the shift to virtual was more due to the potential staffing issues caused by COVID-19.

“I feel like as long as the coaches are OK with it, the students aren’t the ones being impacted as much as the staff,” she said.

Adams added that she wanted to make sure other extracurricular activities like music and drama were addressed too.

AASD Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said those other extracurricular plans follow the athletic plan, describing them as “working in tandem.”

After Johnston asked Riccio about attendance capacity, Riccio said that will be discussed later, but that his department is working on a plan to allow people to spectate virtually.

In other business, the board voted to hire Stephen Parks and Associates at a cost of $38,500 to provide design and construction oversight services for the replacement of the Mansion Park running track surface and artificial turf.

Board Vice President Frank Meloy and Members Eric Haugh, Rick Hoover, Mike Baker and David Francis voted in favor. Board President Sharon Bream and members Adams, Johnston and Ed Kreuz voted against the measure.

Mirror Staff Writer Dom Cuzzolina is at 946-7428.

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