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Tomah School Board limits fans, funds live-streaming for sports

Tomah School Board limits fans, funds live-streaming for sports

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Brad Plueger

Brad Plueger

Spectator seating will be family-only for the fall sports season at Tomah High School.

The Tomah School Board voted 7-0 Wednesday to adopt a limited seating arrangement for football, volleyball and boys soccer during a special meeting Wednesday at Oakdale Elementary School.

The district is pursuing a fall sports season but is limiting attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

School district activities director Brad Plueger said attendance would be limited to immediate family members who live in the same household. He said the game personnel wouldn’t be given a list of names at the door, but a total attendance count would be monitored and enforced. Fans will be required to wear masks, and bleachers will be removed from the soccer fields.

For football and volleyball matches, areas will be marked with X’s where families are seated at least six feet apart from other families.

Competition has already begun in girls tennis, girls golf and boys and girls cross country. The WIAA pushed back the start of practice for volleyball, football and boys soccer to Sept. 7. The latter three, unlike the three that started Aug. 17, have most of their fans seated in bleachers during contests.

Plueger said fans attending golf and tennis matches have complied with regulations to wear masks.

“Those have gone really well so far,” he said.

The board also approved $10,000 to set up live-streaming cameras in the gymnasium and E.J. McKean Field, where Tomah plays its home football games. The package includes $7,000 for the cameras and installation and $3,000 for a subscription service paid by the district that allows Tomah fans to watch for free. Without the $3,000, local fans would be required to purchase subscriptions on their own.

“Ten thousand will get us the gym, the football field, and anyone can watch it,” board member Mike Gnewikow said.

Board member Sue Bloom backed the live-streaming option.

“It keeps the schools and activities connected to the community,” she said.

The cameras can’t be moved from room to room, which leaves the auditorium without live-streaming. Plueger said there are copyright issues associated with performances to work out before live-streaming can be done in the auditorium.

The board also voted 7-0 to convert middle school athletics to a “skill building and intramural format” for the fall season. Plueger said only two schools in the area — La Crosse Aquinas and Holmen — wanted to pursue an interscholastic model.

Plueger said intramurals would run six weeks with the possibility of a “culminating intramural event” at the end of the season. Participants would still be subject to the activities code.

Students would participate only on the days they attend class. The middle school and high school started the school year Sept. 1 two days a week in person and two days a week online.

In other business, the board approved a supplemental cost-of-living pay increase for school district support staff and approval of open enrollment requests.

The meeting ended with a discussion of the Oakdale Elementary School facility and tour of the building. The board is meeting at all the district’s school buildings as part of a review of facility needs.

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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