Plans to hire an athletic trainer for Stowe High School are complicated by the uncertainty of whether there will even be organized sports this fall.
Thus far, Gov. Phil Scott has not lifted restrictions on sports such as soccer, field hockey and football that would be played in the fall, or any sport that would be played indoors. Golf and cross-country running seem more feasible, but with limits on spectators.
The Lamoille South school district, which oversees schools in Stowe, Morristown and Elmore, had already budgeted for athletic training services for the next school year, whether by hiring a part-time trainer or having Copley Health Systems operate a drop-in clinic in Stowe similar to the one at the Morristown hospital.
Now, according to superintendent Tracy Wrend, Copley — which, like other hospitals, was hammered financially by restrictions on elective medical procedures for the first couple of months of the coronavirus pandemic — is reluctant to simply expand its training staff to have someone in Stowe, what with “the ambiguity of this time.”
Wrend told the school board Monday that other schools might be willing to give up some of their Copley training time so Stowe could have a drop-in once a week. Peoples Academy and Lamoille and Hazen union high schools use Copley for their athletic training needs.
Until this past school year, Stowe had its own in-house trainer, but she resigned and the post was never filled. A large number of parents and others in Stowe pushed the district to budget for a trainer.
Many were concerned about concussion protocols and other injuries, and whether student-athletes were being adequately protected.
The choice now would be either to hire someone or to sign a contract with Copley to assure the hospital system gets paid. Wrend said Copley will do what it can to help, but it has to take care of itself, first.
At Monday’s school board meeting, board member Penny Jones of Elmore said she generally prefers contracting over hiring in this case, because you can always sever a contract for services; not so easy with an employee on the district payroll.
Board member Tiffany Donza of Stowe said she generally agrees with that, but she also likes someone who gets to know the kids.
Time is of the essence, added Norm Williams of Stowe, because if Copley were to take its offer off the table as Stowe searches for job applicants — there were no takers last fall — “we are in a tough spot.”
In the summertime
With graduation and a very strange last quarter of the school year finally over, the school district turns its attention to summer and the next school year.
Even as Scott and Education Secretary Dan French last week announced schools will reopen in the fall, Wrend said the district must be “attentive and nimble as we finish this summer and move on to the fall,” which means preparing for 100 percent in-school operations and 100 percent remote learning, and the gradations in between.
Donza said it might be time to rethink the school calendar, which is “more suited for being in school and taking breaks.”
Williams wondered about the financial implications of having a teachers deal with a mix of schoolhouse and remote learning.
Some happenings this summer:
• The district will continue to offer its summer meal program. Anyone 18 and younger — no need to be a student — can pick up meals for themselves and any other youth in their family.
• Mud City Kids will handle child care services in Morristown and Elmore, while Stowe Parks and Recreation will offer services at Stowe Elementary School.
• Speaking of schools, the campuses are slowly reopening. Wrend said the buildings will be “generally open” to employees by July 6.