School board will start meetings with Pledge of Allegiance

By John McLoone

After a visit with state champion Hastings High School Marching Band members, the Hastings School Board turned its attention to several policy changes and updates.

A lot of business was handled in the hour-and-ahalf meeting Nov. 23, but it started off with some good news.

Appearing before the school board, band directors and band members thanked the board and district for its support of the program.

“We had a blast this season,” band director Emily Chandler said. “This is my 21st season of being able to direct the marching band. Especially coming off last year where we did not have a competitive season, we were raring to go and very excited.”

The band competed on six Saturdays throughout the fall, culminated with a first-place finish in Class AA.

“There were many competitors and many large and fantastic bands,” Chandler said of the state finish. “We were really excited about that. Performing at US Bank Stadium is kind of a dream.”

There were 80 students in the marching band this year, and Chandler is hopeful for a return to parade performances next summer, if the COVID pandemic cooperates.

“We did have a lot of fun this year, getting back together, having a normal season,” said Chandler. “We were really pleased and had a blast.”

The band was thanked for its appearance, and the board dove into policy matters.

Notable among the policy changes is the fact that the order of the board meeting is being changed, to allow for the Pledge of Allegiance to start each meeting.

“We are one of few district that do not have the Pledge of Allegiance,” Board Chair Kelsey Waits said.

The Pledge of Allegiance will be recited just following the meeting being called to order. That policy was forwarded for a second reading and the December meeting, at which time it will be also moved to an action item.

The board also saw policy language that is necessary if a President Biden administration policy requiring entities with more than 100 employees to either have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

See BOARD Page 3 Right now, the federal regulation, which was to be overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been put on hold in the federal court system.

The policy language the district reviewed goes into effect only if the OSHA policy goes into effect.

“This is something we have to have in place. Because we’re a school district, and we have over 100 employees, we are bound by it and don’t have a say in the matter,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert McDowell.

If the mandate never clears court hurdles, “It goes away effectively,” McDowell said of the policy.

The board reviewed a second reading of how its meeting minutes are handled. Waits noted that the change in this policy is the keeping of minutes in a journal where they can be reviewed.

The policy outlines how minutes are kept and published. They are currently published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which it was forced to switch to when the Hastings Star-Gazette ceased publication in May 2020. The Hastings Journal started publishing the following week and is eligible to be the district’s legal newspaper. It currently is the official newspaper of the City of Hastings and runs public notices for various local townships as well.

December 8, 2021