Kosciusko schools postpone reopening until at least Aug. 17

By KAREN FIORETTI,

Following a lengthy executive session that Kosciusko school board members requested with the superintendent and school principals, the board voted 5-0 to postpone the start of the school year 10 days, from August 10 to August 17.

More than 75 people gathered in the meeting room and another room where the meeting was being live-streamed, and in lobby areas of the district offices as the board called the meeting to order. Almost immediately, the board voted to enter into an executive session to discuss “personnel” matters.

When asked after the meeting, Ellzey told The Star-Herald the executive session was warranted because specific school personnel and potential health concerns in relation to the start of the school year were being discussed.

By the time the board reconvened in public session nearly 90 minutes later, about a third of the audience members had departed. None of those who remained spoke publicly before the board voted on a COVID-19-related policy and the postponement.

After making a minor change to the proposed Positive COVID-19 Test Procedure, the board voted to approve that policy.

It was then that Ellzey proposed delaying the start of the school year until at least August 17.

“I recommend — and on the advice of local medical personnel — I am proposing a delay of in-person (instruction) until August 17 to allow us to build up medical supplies, educate our staff on cleaning, and, most importantly, to teach our parents and students to do the virtual learning,” he said.

Overall, about 20% of Kosciusko’s students have thus far registered for virtual learning, with only 24 hours left for registration, which ends tomorrow, Friday, July 31. The superintendent said the rate of junior and senior high school students opting for virtual learning is slightly higher than the rate at the elementary level.

Following a unanimous vote on the postponement, Ellzey said the board will reevaluate the school opening date and plans during their next regularly-scheduled meeting August 10.