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At the monthly Fulton Public School District Board of Education meeting Wednesday, a discussion about handbooks turned to dress codes.

Handbooks for transportation, BAC-PAC, athletics, the Fulton Early Childhood Center, the elementary schools, Fulton Middle School and Fulton High School were up for board approval during the meeting.

Board member Leah Baker noted the language in the updated dress code sections of the high school and middle school handbooks was vague.

Previously, the section included detailed descriptions including rules about exposed midriffs and undergarments and the width of shirt straps.

"Some of those things where outdated, and some of them were definitely biased," FHS Principal Kati Boland said.

The new handbooks drop much of that language, instead focusing on ensuring clothing is not distracting.

"It's hard to take every single thing and say 'Thou shall not wear this and they can't do this' because then you tie your hands," FMS Principal Beth Houf said. "I anticipate a lot of kids wearing masks in the fall, and I think we need to be ready for that. That's okay, that's an OK thing. We can still see kids, and if there's a distraction to the learning environment, that's when we need to worry about it."

Houf also mentioned the middle school had experimented with allowing hats and hoods and hadn't seen any problems.

"I think we were trying to be more concise in our dress code. We were also really looking at making sure we're not being biased — gender biased," Houf said.

For example, a line including the word "cleavage" was scrapped — students have to wear shirts, but now the language isn't directed toward female students.

"What you need to understand about handbooks this year — there's a lot of discussion that's going to happen on how school starts, and we see addendums coming out to the handbooks," Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said, noting statewide, schools are still figuring out how COVID-19 might impact operations.

The board approved the updated handbooks. In other business, activities Director Ryan Waters gave an update on extracurricular activities.

"I think if our community could see what's going on in our school district right now they would be very proud," he said.

Despite the disruption of the shutdown, Waters told the board there were many positives this year in terms of extracurricular activities.

"I could talk to you all night about the things that happened this year within our athletic programs," he said. "We have a list of kids that made all-conference this year that have never made all-conference, some programs that have gone from being at the bottom of the barrel to competitive. It's just an exciting time of where we're at and where we're going."

Of the high school student body, 36 percent participated in athletics, 24 percent participated in band or choir, and 35 percent participated in sponsored clubs.

"If you would line up 10 kids, six of them are involved in something, and I think that's a pretty strong number," Waters said.

Waters talked of one student who participated in nine different clubs this year — FHS offers 36 clubs, while Fulton Middle School offers 13.

"I feel like we're kind of like that Baskin-Robins — we've got something for everybody," he said.

The board also approved a contract with Engineering Surveys and Services. Under the agreement, the district will identify projects, like sidewalk additions or parking lot updates, and the firm will handle many of the details like bid collections and cost estimations.

Other agenda items from the meeting, including discussions of a second agriculture teacher, budgets, graduation and an audit where outlined in a Friday article in the Fulton Sun.

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