The COVID-19 safety precautions Greenwood County School District 50 put in place seem to be running smoothly, Superintendent Steve Glenn said at Monday’s school board meeting, but there has been some confusion about when to keep kids at home.
If a student tests positive, Glenn explained to the board that the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has definitions for who qualifies as a close contact. Those people are directly called, and others who might have shared a classroom get an automated call from the district to alert them.
Glenn said the 10 days someone spends out recovering when they get sick isn’t the real issue for instruction, it’s if that person has siblings or close contacts who also go to school in the district. Those people also have to be out for 10 days, then quarantine for an additional 14 to monitor for developing symptoms.
“And we have had cases where on the 14th day that person starts showing symptoms,” he said.
He added that the district has had several instances where a student has to get tested but is sent back to school before the results come in. He urged parents that if a student has to be tested, they should be kept out of school until the results come back to determine whether it’s safe to go back.
Other than that, Glenn said there haven’t been any issues with mask compliance, and he commended staff members for their patience and efforts.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank our teachers because we are asking them to do a lot more,” he said. “The teachers have taken care of that for us, and they’ve stepped up to care for our children.”
Board member Danielle Fields reminded everyone to stay aware that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has affected people’s lives in many ways, and it’s important to be understanding with others.
Monday’s board meeting, streamed online for those who wanted to attend, was the first since former board member Claude Wright’s passing earlier this month. His seat will remain empty until November, where it will be filled through a write-in election.
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Brad Nickles shared that the district had improved SAT scores. In 2019, they ranked 40th out of 81 school districts in the state, but the 2020 scores brought them up to 28th. The score is still 15 points behind the state average, so Nickles said they’ll continue pushing to reach and surpass that. The district’s accreditation visit was scheduled for this year, but a waiver has allowed staff to delay it a year, which Nickles said will remove some stress from an already taxed staff.
Chief Financial Officer Rodney Smith said without knowing whether additional federal funds are coming for coronavirus relief, the budget needs to stay flexible to buy any protective gear or cleaning supplies needed, given the pandemic. State legislators are still deciding on a budget that might contain a step increase for teachers, Smith said, but there’s no guarantee of the raise. Board member Clay Sprouse asked that Smith find a backup plan to provide some sort of benefit even if the state doesn’t provide a raise.
After a closed-door discussion of recommendations and vacancies in personnel, the board returned to open session to vote to approve Sprouse and board member Hillary Craigo as delegate and backup for the school board association’s meeting.