August School Board Meeting

School Board Addresses Reopening of Schools
Posted on 08/05/2021
This is the image for the news article titled School Board Addresses Reopening of SchoolsAt their August 5 meeting, Weakley County School Board members took care of the usual start-of-school business and heard details on the plans to reopen with pandemic safety protocols in place.

Chairman Steve Vantrease was absent due to work-related travel and Josh Moore convened the quorum as they approved new representatives on the Sick Leave Bank, discussed the use of school buildings for community events, and approved the hiring of new volunteer coaches. As part of Director Randy Frazier’s report, the reopening health and safety protocols, compiled with specifics from each school and overall directives for the county, were reviewed. All board members received the plans prior to the meeting.

As each school year begins, board members select from their own to represent the board as trustees on the committee that approves when teachers require additional sick leave beyond their yearly allotment. Teachers have the option of joining the bank by offering up two of their sick days. The bank is a resource for any teacher facing extended illnesses. Selected for the 2021-22 year were Kim Longacre and John Hatler.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, last year school facilities were not made available to outside groups. After a brief discussion, the board determined to continue to prohibit such use through the month of August and revisit the issue at the next board meeting.

The board also approved the return of field trips to school calendars, another activity that was put on hold last year.

In reviewing the updated reopening plans, Frazier pointed to several practices that would be continued including social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing. Three feet is expected for social distancing. Masks will be encouraged. Items such as alcohol wipes, masks (adult/children), gloves, and hand sanitizer will continue to be available.

When individuals test positive for the COVID-19 virus or the new Delta strain, they will still need to remain in isolation for the required days as suggested by the local health department.

In an interview prior to the board meeting, Safe Schools Coordinator Lorna Benson who was a part of the Safety and Health Team that helped to revise this year’s plan, noted, “One result of last year’s precautions was a new understanding of how certain protocols are beneficial from an overall health perspective. Seating charts for classrooms, in the cafeteria and on school buses; wiping down areas a couple of times a day; washing and/or sanitizing hands – are just good ideas when you are talking about the health of our children who, through no fault of their own, also share germs.”

She added that some schools have opted to continue to promote a traffic flow in the hallways and to stagger times at lockers to help keep interactions below the 15-minute mark national sources suggest are optimal for spreading the virus but also to keep “hallway drama” to a minimum.
As for quarantines, she said that administrators, nurses, and counselors are being advised of the following, “Weakley County Schools will provide guidance on Covid-related returns to school in instances in which we know the close contact occurred in a school setting or at school-related activity. Due to ever-evolving information on the pandemic from national and state sources, parents must rely on personal care physicians or the local health department to answer questions when the close contact occurred outside the school setting.”

Quarantines resulting from close contact in the school setting will be for 10 days, per current local health department guidance.

In discussion preceding the approval of the plans Board Member Martin Hamlin, a physician assistant at Jackson Madison County General Hospital’s Emergency Room, referred to increased cases, especially among children and youth.

“We are being optimistic to relax at this point,” he cautioned. “I don’t want people to completely put their guard down. It’s not gone. We need to remain vigilant.”

He, along with all other board members in attendance, approved the plan.

For further details on the reopening plans, see “Reopening Plans 2021-22” under the News tab at www.weakleyschools.com.

The board also approved budgetary matters including allocating $92,771 to be divided among the schools who faced loss of gate receipts in 2020-21 and an allocation of funds to cover the additional expenses related to air conditioning at the Westview field house.

In other business, non-faculty coaches approved by the board were Todd Maxey, DMS/DHS Cross Country; Josh Grant, DHS Football; Scott Hewett, DMS Football; Luke Hughes, Gleason Girls and Boys Basketball; Jonathan Utley, Greenfield Assistant Boys Basketball; Dusty Gibson, Westview Cross Country.