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Maybe something virtual this fall, maybe something next spring

CCA School Board ponders the fate of Homecoming 2020
Clear Creek Amana High School students throw flour in the air during the opening kick-off of the Clippers’ Homecoming Game against new rival Liberty High Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. The district limited spectators to four tickets per participant (athlete, cheerleaders and band) this season due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

OXFORD– It is practically a cliché to say nothing has been left untouched, unchanged, by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
However, after a spring which saw all high school sports cancelled, schools closed and graduations cancelled, done drive-through style in school parking lots, or held virtually, another annual high school tradition is in jeopardy of being unlike any other.
The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District School Board of Directors discussed the fall tradition of Homecoming at the regularly scheduled work session on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the district’s administration building near Oxford.
While plans are still very much in the discussion phase, one thing is fairly certain: the Homecoming Parade will not occur this year. Fears of spreading the virus among the student body and the community, along with the potential for having to once again close schools and cancel an entire sports season, prompted the discussion. Johnson County continued to see a spike in positivity rates for the virus, making it one of the most impacted counties in the state.
The district already implemented restrictions in who and how many can attend this fall’s athletic events with four tickets per family being distributed to football players, cheerleaders and band members, effectively wiping out the student section. While some districts allowed fans in the stands, others, such as the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), played Week One games in relatively empty stadiums.
Matt Trosky (a CCA coach, high school social studies teacher and advisor to the student council) told the board, “The reality is, putting on a (Homecoming) parade in the city of Tiffin, I’m not sure we can police (ensure social distancing, face coverings) 500 to 1,000 people safely.” The risk of potential exposures and the effect it could have on the rest of the school year was too great, he said.
“Our kids have been pretty realistic that there’s probably not a safe way to do it this year.”
Trosky surveyed Homecoming students with over 60 percent agreeing it was not a safe activity for this fall and wanting to move it to next spring. “Obviously there were some questions, you have prom in the spring, so when do you do it? Is it March? Is it April? I think you can work out the logistics at a later time, but the next-best option was having it outdoors, in the spring, and the last option was virtual (online).”
Trosky said several students told him they felt a parent or parents would be willing to host a virtual dance or a virtual coronation. However, Trosky said such a move could defeat the practice of social gatherings of 10 people or less.
“Again, increasing our possible contacts going into the school the following week,” he said.
He also said holding the Homecoming events in the spring could lead to other options being developed in an outdoor setting.
“Still kind of spread out and distancing. It could make it a different experience for the kids,” Trosky noted.
Other suggestions included, “Anything we could do when it’s ‘safe,” he said. “Our kids are pretty bright in terms of their overall knowledge about this situation and I haven’t had a single kid be unrealistic with the expectation that it will happen this fall. I think these kids just want the opportunity. And if we provide that opportunity, maybe in the spring of ’21, you’re at least giving them the opportunity to hope and experience something that for those seniors specifically, and the entire school building, if it can happen this spring they would probably be more understanding than they would be if you just said no.”
Trosky said there seemed to be a consensus among the students to hold Homecoming as soon as possible, with the caveat of if it gets safer sooner. “If it gets safer in November or December, whatever safer is by our school district’s standards, I think the kids would love to have it then.”
Conditions permitting, he added, it was not outside the realm of possibility to have it during basketball and wrestling season.
“I think it’s kind of cool to maybe change it and do something different,” he said. “Everything we’re doing in education, is like Mark (Moody, high school principal) would say: we’re building an airplane as we’re flying it. And sometimes I wonder if we even have the wheels to get off the ground, but we’re making it work.”
The bottom line, Trosky said, “I think the kids just want to be in the know, and they just want to be sure there’s an opportunity for something to happen. They at least want to find a way to problem solve.”
Superintendent Tim Kuehl suggested a basketball game close to the Christmas break could be an option to which Trosky noted it could be tied into a fundraiser such as the school’s annual “Pennies for Patients” event, benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society cancelled last spring.
“We’ve got a lot of kids with a lot of great ideas,” Trosky said.