Policy Committee reviews heat guidelines for district activities

Posted: Nov. 20, 2012 9:20 am Updated: Dec. 4, 2012 3:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy School Board's Policy Committee heard a report Monday about the new heat policy the board adopted last summer.

The policy says no practice or activity will be allowed once the heat index reaches 105 degrees or higher. This applies to all athletics and other physical activities, including PE classes, marching band and indoor sports when air conditioning is not available.

When the heat index enters the 95-to-105 range, practices will include water breaks every 20 minutes; students must be given five minutes of "total rest" each hour; practices must not exceed two hours; and free access to water must be provided at all times.

Bill Sanders, Quincy High School's athletic director, told the committee the new policy "went well" after it was put into effect last fall. While no team had to cancel any practices or games because of high heat, the special provisions went into effect several times after heat index reached the 95-to-105 range.

The new policy -- and the district's emphasis on student safety -- "opened a lot of peoples' eyes," Sanders said. "A lot of coaches were cutting practices short instead of pushing the envelope."

Tom Dickerson, Policy Committee chairman, noted that Quincy may have been the first school district in Illinois to adopt a policy of this nature.

"We were kind of cutting edge -- at least in Illinois -- with this policy," he said.

A proposed new policy reviewed by the committee Monday would clarify that the district couldn't ask a prospective employee to provide passwords to allow access to the person's Facebook account, but school officials wouldn't be precluded from looking at the person's Facebook account if it is "out there in the public domain for you to access," Dennis Gorman, the district's attorney, said.

"You're not limited in any kind of investigation you want to do, but you cannot require them to give you certain information," he said.

The new policy was in a package of proposed policy revisions recommended to the district by the Illinois Association of School Boards. All of the recommended policy changes were designed to keep the district's policies up-to-date based on changes to state laws.