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Northland Pines Policy Committee Discusses Winter Sports, Gender Topics

Northland Pines School District

 Restrictions for conducting winter sports, school music concerts, and gender topics were part of the discussion last week by the Northland Pines policy committee with reports to the school board for any final decisions to be made by the full board.

District administrator Scott Foster indicated they have five winter sports to consider using WIAA guidelines, these being boys and girls hockey, boys and girls basketball, and cheer/dance which will start in mid-November. 

  “Masks won’t be required during play but will be required during practice and when on the bench,” Foster said. “For basketball there won’t be any jump balls and referees are directed to specific locations.”

  Foster thought the bigger issue will be with spectators, particularly at the sports arena controlled by the Eagle River Recreation Association.

  “We lease the facility but it is not our facility but we can direct specific seating at our hockey games. If the season is canceled what do we do with the rent? We’ll pay something and if there are no games we can still use the facility for practice,” Foster said.

 Foster indicated there will be no Pines Classic since out of the area players are hosted in our students homes. All winter sports will be reduced by four weeks. It’s felt girls hockey will be impacted the most since many other teams are co-op’s composed of multiple schools.

  Committee member Becky Nordine felt any decision be up to the full board.

Gender topics 

  Northland Pines Policy Committee were informed there are increasing incidents on how a student wants to be identified by name.

  Principal Dan Marion revealed what started as one incident last year is now seven to eight and growing.

 “We are getting requests and need sample policies or written guidelines.” Marion said. “When there is a name change request other than their birth name we talk with the parents and work it out.”

  One issue that stands out is the school district policy to have the birth name of a graduate on their diploma or yearbook but Marion indicated they have some students that don’t want that. 

He indicated only Tomahawk has a written guideline and all other schools he contacted treat each case individually.

 Administrator Foster indicated the district always allowed nicknames but birth names are sent to the state department of education.

  “These are young adults and it’s extremely stressful for the student.” Foster said. “Their safety and mental health are important and they need support. We do have gender neutral bathrooms and it works well.

 “The student side is important and how they feel when allowed or noi allowed for a name change. Students need to be included in any discussion on this issue.”

 Becky Nordine agreed it is a deeply personal and emotional time for a student and we need some legal interpretation. “We need to talk to the student council, do we continue to have a prom king and queen?”

  A student status changes when they turn 18 years old and there is at least one continuing court case on this issue.

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