Suzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nAt the January 26 Pocahontas County Board of Education, county athletic directors Kristy Tritapoe, Nebraska Scotchie and Julie Shifflet shared their concerns about the upcoming high school and middle school basketball season.\r\n\r\nDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winter sports have been pushed back and the basketball season will be shorter. There are also a number of guidelines schools must follow to ensure the safety of both the teams and visitors during each game.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s a little bit different than the fall because those sports were outside,\u201d Tritapoe said. \u201cNow we\u2019re talking about bringing all these kids inside, into the gym.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmong the concerns shared was the cost of hiring a security team to check tickets at each home game. Due to the pandemic restrictions, volunteers and school employees are not allowed to work at the games and so a security team is required to make sure they only allow ticket holders into the game.\r\n\r\nAll ticket sales are done pregame \u2013\u00a0with an equal number of tickets sold for the home and away teams.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn addition to allowing a security team into the facilities, the three directors were also concerned about having visitors in the schools since the number of visitors allowed in the schools has been kept to a minimum for several months.\r\n\r\nAccording to the WVSSAC guidelines, each school is allowed to have 20 percent of its gymnasium\u2019s capacity at each game. This number includes the members and coaches for each team, and a limited number of spectators allowed at the games.\r\n\r\nWith all the restrictions and concerns, the directors wanted the board\u2019s opinion on how they should proceed.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe want to do what\u2019s best for the kids,\u201d Scotchie said. \u201cWe don\u2019t want to take away everything kids love, and we know the positive things of sports.\u201d\r\n\r\nBoard president Dr. Sue Hollandsworth explained that she didn\u2019t think it was up to the board to make the decision, but rather each school should determine if the risk is worth the reward.\r\n\r\n\u201cListening to all of the concerns, I think that it\u2019s not our job to do that \u2013\u00a0it\u2019s Kristy and Julie and Nebraska\u2019s place to do that \u2013 to decide if it\u2019s worth it,\u201d she said. \u201cI agree with all of your concerns, and I see where you\u2019re coming from. \r\n\r\n\u201cI think the question is \u2013 is it worth it for nineteen ballgames?\u201d \r\n\r\nDuring the reentry plan discussion, board member Sam Gibson said he has had several complaints about how school closures for snow days are handled.\r\n\r\nAlthough it was not part of the reentry plan, Gibson wanted to discuss the issue.\r\n\r\nSeveral board members stated their opinions, agreeing that it is difficult to know what the weather will do in Pocahontas County, and because it is so inconsistent, it is hard to make a decision.\r\n\r\n\u201cI would love to be able to say, \u2018God, what kind of weather are you going to give us for five days?\u2019\u201d John Burns said. \u201cNobody knows. When the snow falls out of the sky, there\u2019s nothing you or I or anybody can do about it.\r\n\r\n\u201cAnother thing is, the weather from one end of the county to the next is so different,\u201d Morgan McComb added.\r\n\r\n\u201cI can say, on Monday morning, I was supposed to go to Beckley and I tried, but I couldn\u2019t get across Droop Mountain,\u201d Hollandsworth said.\r\n\r\nGibson reiterated that he feels the decision could be made every morning, early in the morning.\r\n\r\nSuperintendent Terrence Beam and Director of Transportation Ruth Bland work together to decide on snow days, as well as delays and early dismissal days. There are times Beam and Bland are able to make that decision the evening prior to the school day, while other times, they have to wait until the early morning.\r\n\r\nBland explained that she monitors the weather as closely as possible and is unable to get updates from the West Virginia Department of Highways because there is no longer night watchmen at the county\u2019s garages.\r\n\r\nAs the discussion continued and Gibson continued to ask for more consistency, the air grew tense. Bland explained her methods in deciding snow days.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve got notes here,\u201d Gibson said.\r\n\r\n\u201cThen give me the notes and I\u2019ll see what you want me to do,\u201d Bland said. \u201cI want you to write down exactly what you want me to do, how you want me to do it, and Mr. Beam and I will do that. Please produce it now because I may have a snow day tomorrow.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cHere\u2019s what I want you to do,\u201d Gibson said. \u201cI want you to get up in the morning.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cI do,\u201d Bland countered.\r\n\r\n\u201cContinue to do that,\u201d Gibson replied.\r\n\r\n\u201cSo you\u2019re telling me\u00a0\u2013 you\u2019re a board member telling me that I have to get up at four a.m. every morning,\u201d Bland asked.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf that\u2019s the job, then yeah,\u201d Gibson answered.\r\n\r\n\u201cI am sorry, but I do not take direct orders from board members,\u201d Bland said. \u201cI take them from my superintendent.\u201d\r\n\r\nAs the discussion continued, Bland asked Gibson why he did not call her prior to the meeting to get information concerning snow days. She said she has told him several times to call the directors at the board office when he has concerns or questions about policies and the way the school system operates.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve asked you three or four times in the past, before you come to the meetings, please call the directors and get the information ahead of time,\u201d she said. \u201cYou did not. I want to know why you won\u2019t.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cFor one thing, I didn\u2019t have time to call today,\u201d Gibson said. \u201cNumber two, the point is we come to these meetings to discuss these issues.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are here to discuss the issues that are on the agenda,\u201d Bland said. \u201cThis is not part of the reentry plan.\u201d\r\n\r\nHollandsworth addressed Gibson and explained that she has been in the school system for a long time and the snow day issue has come up each year. There will always be parents who are not happy with when school is called off, and there is nothing that can be done about it.\r\n\r\nBland pointed out that there have been only one and a half snow days this school year.\r\n\r\nMcComb, who was also an employee of the school system for many years before becoming a board member, tried to explain to Gibson that while it is their job to listen to the concerns of the community, it\u2019s impossible to make everyone happy all the time.\r\n\r\n\u201cI still want to advocate for consistency,\u201d Gibson reiterated. \u201cWe can still be somewhat consistent.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn regard to snow days, Hollandsworth said that in her opinion, the school system is as consistent as possible.\r\n\r\nThe next board meeting will be Tuesday, February 16, at 5:30 p.m., beginning with a calendar hearing, at the board of education conference room at Buckeye.