Parents concerned about COVID positive cases in schools; anxious for alternative programs
The Greene County Board of Education, at its regular session, Monday August 16, 2021, held the first of two required public Budget Hearings relative to the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The second public Budget Hearing is scheduled for Thursday, August 26, 2021 at 4:30 in the Board’s Central Office.
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones opened his report with a statement that the school system has received information that five students at one of the schools have tested positive for the coronavirus. (Editor’s Note: At press time Wednesday, the school system had 20 students reported COVID positive.) Those students are currently in isolation and no longer in school. He noted that his immediate response was to implement contact tracing and send written communications to the parents of students who may have had contact with the students reported to have tested positive. He cautioned all parents to monitor their children closely and have them tested at any signs of related illness. He also urged parents to get their children who are of age vaccinated, and to encourage other adults to get vaccinated as well.
“We are implementing all methods we can to provide a safe environment in our schools, but in this situation, the children testing positive did not get infected in school. Contact tracing indicated this occurred in the community. There is a rise in the spread of COVID 19 and its variants all over Alabama, including Greene County. Vaccinations are still at a low rate, and without a mandatory mask mandate for the public, our community is greatly exposed,” Jones stated.
He emphasized that masks are required by everyone in Greene County schools and school properties. “We are also not allowing visitors at the schools. This is another measure to keep students and personnel safe,” he said.
Superintendent Jones remarked that, understandably, parents are concerned about the safety and welfare of their children and are anxious about continuing to send them to in-school classes. “ We are also monitoring the COVID situation closely, giving attention to the guidance of all health agencies and directives from the Governor’s office, and we will be prepared to make adjustments in school operations as authorized and needed,” he stated. “ Virtual learning is currently available for students who have serious underlying conditions,” Jones added.
Jones reminded that officials from the State Department of Health will be at Robert Brown Middle School and Greene County High on Wednesday, August 18 to hold clinics and administer vaccinations, with parental consent, to students 12 year and older.
A number of parents attended the board meeting to express their concerns, during public comments, about the report of students with COVID positive and the risk to their children continuing with the in-school classes. Parents, seemingly, were seeking assurance that school officials would keep their children safe. They were also anxious to know the specific plans for an alternative academic program (virtual classes). Many expressed that they were considering keeping their children home, even if they were not COVID positive. One parent expressed that the news that some students from a particular school had the virus was a traumatic experience for her child.
Superintendent Jones repeated the process for continuous sanitizing of all school facilities; mandating masks; sanitizing hands, and stated he will be contacting State Department of Education regarding alternative schooling.
In continuing his report, Superintendent Jones noted that current school enrollment is down. “We have 838 students enrolled to date; so far there is a decrease in the ADM by 46.65%. We have 152 employees. All bus drivers are vaccinated and with 19 bus routes and 19 buses, all but seven are equipped with air conditioning, and buses on the longest routes have air conditioning,” he said.
Jones stated that buses have to be purchased on a staggered schedule, to comply with state directives and benefit from the limited state resources for the Transportation Department.
“If we bought five buses now, these are likely to need replacing at the same time and we would not have sufficient resources to replace all five,” he explained.
Jones also noted that there will be greater emphasizes on student reading and Math improvement, with interventionists at each school; this is in addition to the regular classroom teachers.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
Rescind: Calvin Finch – History Teacher, Greene County High School; Tanisha Strode-2nd grade Teacher at Eutaw Primary School.
Employment: Ralph Marshall – History Teacher, Greene County High School; Brittany Jenkins – Math Intervention, Greene County High School; Randall White – Maintenance, Greene County Board of Education; Glenara Faust – Fifth Grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; LaDaisha Grace – Seventh/Eight Grade Social Studies, Robert Brown Middle School; Tabitha Smith – In-School Suspension Facilitator, Robert Brown Middle School; Nyesha Watson – First Grand Teacher, Eutaw Primary; Destiny Taylor – Long Term Substitute, Eutaw Primary; Shana Lucy – Third Grade Teacher, Eutaw Primary.
Voluntary Transfer: Pamela Pasteur, from First Grade Teacher to Reading Intervention Teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Corey Cockrell, from PE Teacher at Robert Brown to 9th Grade, Greene County High; Sherita Pickens, from 3rd Grade Teacher to Math Intervention Teacher, Eutaw Primary; Felecia Smith, from 6th Grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle to Math Intervention Teacher, Robert Brown Middle; Tameshia Porter, English Teacher Greene County High to Reading Intervention Greene County High.
Supplemental Contracts Robert Brown Middle School: Henry Miles, Head Football Coach; Quentin Walton, Assistant Football Coach; Ladasia Grace, Girl Basketball Coach; Henry Miles, 8th Grade Boys’ Basketball Coach; Elroy Skinner, 8th Boys’ Assistant Coach; Quentin Walton, 7th grade Boys’ Basketball Coach.
Supplemental Contracts, Greene County High School: Corey Cockrell, Head Football Coach; Janice Jeames Askew, Volleyball Coach; Halven Carodine, Assistant Boys Basketball Coach, Boys.
The Board approved the following administrative items.
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. LaVonda Blair, CSFO.
* Resolution Agreement Special Education.
* Certificate of Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Brandon Comer of Comer Capital Group.
* Authorize Attorney Hank Sanders to interact on vaping lawsuit and bring back written proposal to the board for consideration.