Although a few parents attended the Monday meeting of the Kosciusko School Board to ask questions, Superintendent Billy Ellzey said the district schools will be ready to reopen on Monday, Aug. 17.
Ellzey garnered approval of a couple of related policy changes from the board, namely requiring all staff and students over age 6 to wear masks at school and changing the quarantine requirement after a positive COVID-19 test to 14 days, as instructed by state mandate. Once the state-issued mask order expires, staff and students fourth grade and up with continue to be mandated to wear masks per board order.
The board also temporarily suspended several district policies that are not applicable due to COVID-19, per allowances made by the Mississippi Department of Education.
District staff are working this week to distribute devices and make sure parents and students who have selected the virtual learning option are fully trained.
Parents asked questions about online learning, cleaning procedures following a positive COVID-19 test, the membership of the group advising the district on COVID-19 decisions and thresholds for closing school altogether. While Ellzey answered some of the questions, he said other decisions will need to be made as situations arise.
Ellzey said the advisory group consists of “local physicians, nurses, parents, teachers and school administrators.”
With the reopening plan in place, the board was able to focus attention on more traditional agenda items.
While approving district financials, board member Farrah Wilder questioned the district’s ESSER plan for the 20-21 school year. ESSER funds are federal funds being made available to school districts to cover the costs of COVID-19-related expenses if they submit an approved plan.
“Do we have an actual list? I would like to see it — the actual project,” Wilder told fellow board members while discussing the agenda item. “I know we have to approve that one.... but I would like to look at it before I approve it, unless you all want to approve it without me.”
It was then that it became clear that project documentation had not been included in the board’s meeting packet.
Ellzey explained that the plan includes obtaining funding for additional bus monitors, cleaning supplies and technology needed for virtual learning.
Wilder suggested the board either table the item or vote on it without her.
Board Chairman Dr. Kenneth Quick appeared ready to vote, saying that he feared missing a deadline for submitting plans. He also said board members should ask questions before meetings, not during meetings.
“If you’ve got questions on it... anything next time... you need to call and get it done before the meeting so you understand it,” said Quick.
But Vice Chairman Randy Fuller asked Ellzey to inquire about the deadline while Wilder and others reviewed the plans and prepared to vote.
Ellzey said he would check with the MDE to find out the deadline for proposal submission.
The board then voted to table the ESSER agenda item to allow Wilder and other board members to review the project proposal, and then voted to approve the remaining Financials agenda items without further discussion.