SUNBURY — Shikellamy School Board voted Thursday to allow 500 fans at football games, contingent on a vote by Sunbury City Council on Sept. 14. The board also approved a proposal to send high school and middle school students home early once a week and spend the remainder of the day in online classes.
Directors unanimously approved a motion to allow 500 fans, which is 250 above the recommendations of Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Department of Health.
“I think this is a win-win for the students in our district,” said Shikellamy school Director Jenna Eister Whitaker. “Like I’ve stated before, if we, as a district, can safely maintain social distancing as well as comply with the recommendations from the CDC for 250 spectators, then what would be the difference if we had 500?”
The move comes after Sunbury City Council members Jim Eister, Rick Reichner, Josh Brosious and Chris Reis, along with Mayor Kurt Karlovich, sent a letter of intent to Shikellamy Wednesday informing the school directors the city would not stand in the district’s way if the board chose to allow 500 fans into the more than 6,000 seat stadium.
“I am happy to see that the school district is showing their support for the sports programs and to the community by allowing more individuals to attend events than originally expected,” said Brosious, a Shikellamy teacher and assistant track coach. “I am happy for the parents being able to see their kids compete and knowing they are safe. This goes to show that any problem can be solved if individuals are willing to work together for the betterment of the community. It’s a good day for the Shikellamy School District.”
Karlovich pointed out in the letter that the council would vote on officially accepting the letter at the Sept. 14 meeting.
Eister, Reichner and Brosious have been adamant in their stance that parents from both teams should be allowed to enter the stadium to watch their children.
“It’s a 6,000 seat stadium,” Eister said. “I would think that Shikellamy will be able to control 500 people on both sides of the field.”
Bendle said he presented the letter to the board and the directors made a decision.
“I believe the board action took into account for student’s safety so that a parent from both home and away teams can be present in case an athlete is injured,” Bendle said.
Also Thursday, the board approved a proposal by Superintendent Jason Bendle and High School Principal Marc Freeman to send middle and high school students home at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays beginning on Sept. 23.
Bendle presented options to the school board Sept. 3 to help teachers have more time to create instructional videos, prepare for classes and clean the school.
Taking Wednesday as the day for teachers to get caught up or produce more instructional videos is the right thing to do, Bendle and Freeman told the board.
“The purpose is to provide time for teachers to work with the nearly 350 remote-learning students in the district,” Bendle said. “We have to take an approach to structure time for teachers to work with all our students. We will be releasing further instructions in the days to come.”