Board OKs activities, but pandemic may interfere

By Michael S. Hoey


The Delavan-Darien School Board spent the bulk of its meeting last week discussing whether or not to move forward with the winter sports seasons. The board voted 6-1 to do so but even those who voted in favor expressed hesitance.

District Administrator Jill Sorbie said at the Nov. 9 meeting she was a big supporter of athletics, but this decision was very difficult for her to wrestle with as the state continues to deal with the pandemic. She said she was genuinely concerned because the situation is very dangerous now.

Sorbie and some board members said the fate of winter sports may be decided by others despite the board’s vote to move forward. She said the school district’s attorney told her if Walworth County mandates there be no winter sports that would have the force of law and the district could not proceed. Even if the county only recommends – but doesn’t mandate – no winter sports, the attorney said the district could open itself up to liability if it proceeded and there were COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, requiring parents and athletes to sign waivers, the attorney said, would likely not stand up in court.

As of last week, the county has not issued any statements about winter high school sports, but DDHS athletic director Guy Otte said Burlington had already announced it will shift to virtual school for two weeks in late November and not participate in athletics during that time.

Sorbie said she heard that at least two other Southern Lakes Conference schools are likely to be shut down by Kenosha County sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Otte said Racine County is likely to follow suit, meaning as many as five SLC schools could be shut down. The board speculated that Walworth County, though not likely to be the first to shut down schools, would likely follow the lead of other neighboring counties.

According to Otte, the fall sports season, mostly played outside, went well. He said all sports except for tennis were impacted in some way by COVID-19 but most of it was indirect as teams lost games with other schools who had outbreaks. For example, the football team’s final game against Union Grove was canceled because of a COVID-19 situation in Union Grove.

Sorbie said there has not been any community spread of COVID-19 so far but she worries winter sports could make that happen. She said she’s aware families want sports to continue but the situation is a huge weight on the district’s shoulders if something happens.

“It is very challenging,” she said.

Henriot made the motion to move forward with winter sports contingent on the county not stepping in. Giovanna Moses was the lone vote in opposition but Ron Deschner thought long and hard before voting yes and did so “with hesitation.” Other board members said their approval was also with hesitation.

      To read the full version of this story see the Nov. 19 edition of the Delavan Enterprise.


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