The Milton School Board voted 6-1 to delay all fall sports until spring during a Monday, Aug. 10, meeting.
Jeff Spiwak, Milton High School director of athletics and activities, will plan and schedule fall sports in spring within current and future WIAA requirements.
As different options for fall sports were weighed, Superintendent Rich Dahman said, “We really kept our guiding principles in mind: How can we make sure we are doing everything we can to decrease the (coronavirus) risk for our students, staff and community, and also provide a high quality education and opportunities for our students.”
Spiwak outlined actions by three influencers that impact what happens in Milton.
WIAA created new timelines for fall sports. Lower risk sports (girls tennis, girls golf, girls swimming) could start Aug. 17. Higher risk sports (volleyball, football, boys soccer) could start Sept. 7.
The Aug. 17 possible start date is the reason Dahman said fall sports were brought to the board Monday.
Plans for band and choir will be brought back to the board at a later time.
According to Spiwak, WIAA acknowledged not every school will be able to have fall sports so they created a spring option for fall sports.
What that means, he said the WIAA Board of Control is expected to clarify Friday.
The Badger Conference, which includes Milton, canceled fall sports competitions and championships.
While schools have the ability to create non-conference schedules, Spiwak said the number of teams available to play is diminishing.
In Phase 2 of the Rock County Public Health Department reopening guidelines, activities and athletics are “severely limited,” he said, adding there is no immediate plan to move out of Phase 2.
“The goal is to get to Phase 3 so we can return to normalcy,” he said.
Spiwak created a Phase 2 chart to show what sports technically could take place in fall: cheer/dance (low to high risk), cross country (moderate/low), golf (low) and swimming (moderate/low).
After listing the sports, he said there would be “incredible restrictions when they occur.”
Cheer, for instance, would be cheering for a team, with 6 feet in between each cheerleader and no competitive cheer.
Soccer (moderate risk), tennis (moderate/low) and volleyball (moderate) could take place in Phase 3.
He pointed out Rock County, lists tennis in a higher risk category than others do.
Football considered high risk is listed as “to be determined.”
School Board President Joe Martin said, “Sports is a big deal, but I think it is somewhat irresponsible of us to ensure the best we can the safety of our kids during the school day then sort of disregard that and let them participate in activities where we cannot ensure that safety.
“I get it about giving people choices but if people choose to do things that put us at high risk, I don’t think that’s a good outcome.”
In order to get to Phase 3, Dahman said, “There’s some short-term pain that goes with that. To get there we have to limit the spread of the virus. We have to make sure that it’s under control.”
If a team would start in fall, then have its season canceled because of coronavirus outbreaks, Dahman said that would be the end of that opportunity for students.
School board member Dave Holterman said asked if there could be sport-specific camps or something like that in fall.
Dahman replied: “We wouldn’t be able to do a sport-specific offering in the fall then offer that same sport in the spring. We could offer opportunities that are open for any students as long as they work within our mitigation strategies and Phase 2 guidelines of Rock County Public Health.”
School board member Diamond McKenna said numerous Milton athletes have been playing sports this summer, she said.
“What choices can we give our families?” she asked.
She suggested board to vote after the WIAA Board of Control meets Friday.
“I don’t think we have enough answers,” she said, clarifying she wanted to know what spring would look like.
In fall, she asked, “You could still compete if two schools are willing?”
Spiwak said yes, but the key would be finding opponents.
Dahman said fewer and fewer schools are offering fall sports in fall.
“I think what people want more than anything is a decision to be made to move forward from,” he said.
School board member Brian Kvapil requested an amendment to the motion that would delay the school board vote until after WIAA Board of Control meets Friday. Kvapil, McKenna and Shelly Crull-Hanke were in favor of delaying the vote, but the amendment failed.