Pandemic’s effects roil school activities

HUDSON–Upcoming events, Covid tests and the superintendent search dominated the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting November 2.

The Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot for children, the Winter Concert, and the High School Drama Club play are on, but the Children’s Book Festival has been canceled again, announced district Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier.

The board gave the Elks Lodge permission to use the High School gym for its Hoop Shoot. Shawn Briscoe, the district athletic director and junior high dean of students, estimated that the event will last two to three hours on a weekend day and involve 25 to 30 children. Hoop Shooters are to come from the Germantown, Hudson, and Taconic Hills school districts and range in age from 8 to over 13.

Dr. Suttmeier spoke favorably about the Hoop Shoot. So much has been been taken from our kids in the past year and a half, she observed, but this event is “not considered high risk,” because it has one distanced shooter at a time.

Board member Sage Carter suggested limiting the number of spectators the hoop shooters can bring.

The Hoop Shoot is the first time this year the HCSD has allowed outsiders to use its facilities, Dr. Suttmeier confirmed.

Dr. Suttmeier reported that the Department of Health also views the Winter Concert and school plays different from high risk sports” because they do not include students from different schools mixing. In addition, the concert is part of the curriculum rather than an extracurricular activity because some music students are required to participate. The Drama Club is looking to perform “Evita,” modified to allow players to stay distanced, this spring.

For the concert, the play and winter sports, spectators are expected to wear masks and maintain social distancing. And there will be no indoor refreshment stand.

However, the 2022 Children’s Book Festival has been canceled. Dr. Suttmeier said the organizers are hoping to do it in 2023, four years after the last one.

‘So much has been been taken from our kids.’

Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier

Hudson City School District

In addition, somebody remarked that this fall an outside drama group wanted to put on a play in a HCSD building and did not get permission. Dr. Suttmeier explained that, unlike the Hoop Shoot or the Drama Club play, an outside performance would be a “high risk activity.”

On another topic, Dr. Suttmeier said, “We’re finding it difficult to staff our buildings” because anybody with any Covid-possible symptom must stay away from the schools until the person tests negative for Covid or gets an “alternate diagnosis.” The shortages affect both teachers and other staff.

If the district had more Covid test kits, people with symptoms could get tested immediately, and if they test negative, they need not miss work. When the kits come, staff will have priority.

On the search for the next superintendent , the board has formed a committee. Member Mark DePace reported that the committee is working on a list of stakeholders to play parts in the search. Some of the stakeholders are to be students. Student Representative Jacob Hromada reported that the Student Council is planning to propose three seniors, one junior, and one sophomore. Dr. Suttmeier plans to retire in January.

Also at the meeting:

District Business Administrator Jesse Boehme and Board Chair Carrie Otty discussed the problem of children having to cross busy streets, like Fairview Avenue, to get to their assigned bus stop. Factors that go into assigning students to bus stops include contracts with bus companies, separate stops for big kids and little kids, and minimizing the distance children walk to their bus stop

• Student Representative Hromada said that on Veterans Day, some students will raise money for Blue Star Moms and Veterans of Foreign Wars outside of Walmart

For the second time this fall, community members expressed concern about the banning of students who have not had Covid vaccinations from certain school sports. At a previous meeting Lakia Walker of Hudson pointed out that this ban contradicts the Future Focused goals of diversity and inclusiveness

At the November 2 meeting, Derrick Conte, a member of the public who has coached school sports, cited concern about the effects of the sports ban on the students and the teams. Dr. Suttmeier thanked him for expressing his opinion. When asked about student reactions, Jacob reported that some students had started an online petition asking the board to rescind the ban. Board members said they were unaware of the petition. Jacob said that as head of the Student Council he wants to be neutral.

The next meeting of the Hudson City School District Board of Education will take place Tuesday, November 16, at 6 p.m.

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