AUSTIN — Minor updates were approved for the health and safety plan, and reopening plan of the Austin Area School District during Monday’s school board meeting.

The updates include the new athletic guidelines which allow for 20% of the room occupancy for attendance at sports events. Although the gymnasium could hold up to 60 people, including players and coaches, the board announced that district allows two tickets per home player for volleyball games.

Acting Athletic Director Kathy Jeffers noted the public is not yet able to attend. Jeffers will continues to attend PIAA meetings and new information will be released as it becomes available.

Superintendent Kimberly Rees said she is very happy school has been able to remain in session and she hopes AHS is able to stay open through the pandemic.

Temperature checks will continue through the end of October and will be further addressed at the November meeting as it begins to get cold, Rees said.

Due to the pandemic, Rees announced Halloween parties will not be permitted with masks and costumes. Students will host a “harvest party” which will allow store bought treats, individually wrapped, to be brought in for everyone to share.

Free breakfast and lunches will be provided to all students as per governor’s news release through the end of the school year, June 2021. Snacks will also be provided at no charge through the end of the school year.

Rees reported administration and staff are working to open the lines of communications with parents. Newsletters have been created and will be sent out to parents.

The school board accepted the low bid of Four Boys Construction to plow and salt sidewalks. The company, owned by Shawn Glover, will charge $100/plow, $75/salt, and $50/sidewalk clearing and salt.

Bus cameras have been purchased through the safety grant for all busses.

The board announced there have been no applicants over the past several months for the Portage-Wharton board seat vacancy and agreed to continue advertising. Area residents are encouraged to submit a letter of interest to the board secretary for the November meeting.

Advertisements also continues for a junior high girls and boys basketball coach, as well as an athletic director. Anyone interested in either of these positions should contact Kathy Jeffers in the school office.

High School Principal Dan Eskesen said he has conducted several walk-throughs and completed the 82-1 formal evaluation process for all teachers for the 2019-20 school year. The goal was to get these observations done quickly, as the academic situation could change quickly, he said.

A needs assessment has been sent to elementary teachers and will be used to create the elementary school counseling program. A similar survey will be conducted at the high school.

Eskesen is also collaborating with State Police on use of the school’s camera system. A memorandum of understanding is being reviewed and will be approved.

Music Director Tim Walck reported all PMEA sponsored festivals have been canceled due to COVID, however, directors from the district have been communicating via Zoom to attempt planning digital chorus events. Additional information will be released soon.