Written By: Jennifer Dearborn
Once again, our local school officials are on the edge of their seats as COVID19 cases are on the rise in our county. The BOE took their seats at the table with one board member absent. After roll call and Pledge of Allegiance, Superintendent Alicia Lambert took a deep breath and read off the current COVID19 breakdown.
At the start of the school year (August 24), Tucker County had 41 total cases and on the day of this meeting there were 67 total cases. Of the 67, 16 were within the school. Currently there are 51 people in the schools quarantined. These numbers do change daily. Lambert also has another concern, “I’m afraid our numbers will go up. They have changed the quarantine space from three feet back to six, which means more will have to quarantine when someone tests positive”.
Chris Gross, board member, voiced his concerns. “We keep moving the goalposts; we have masks, then we don’t, now we do”. Gross stated he has done his own research and recommends everyone else do theirs as well. “Masks have not mitigated this virus,” he expressed. Tim Turner, President, followed up with “It’s either masks or we go virtual, that’s our only option”.
James Snyder, Tucker County Health Department, and Kevin White, Director of Tucker County Office of Emergency Management attended the meeting, as asked to by Lambert. Snyder informed the board, “It’s going to be tough and I expect our numbers to go up over the next three to five more weeks.” Snyder and White agree that they need to do all that they can to keep the children in school safely. Snyder suggested the board mandate masks then revisit it in a month. He also informed the board that as long as the kids are wearing a mask they will not have to quarantine unless they are symptomatic.
Lambert says there is no blended option for school at this time, only full virtual. These kids need to be in school.”
Kathy Hebb, board member, asked that the board go into executive session, at which time they did for twenty-one minutes.
The following resignations were accepted by the board:
Karen Ball, Substitute Custodian
Daniel Helmick, Assistant Football Coach at TCHS
Professional and Service Employments accepted and in effect
Nathaniel Goldstein, PE/Health Teacher DTEMS
Scottie Bowley, Elementary Teacher TVEMS(pending certification)
Keith Nichols, Program Specialist-effective TBA(pending release from Upshur County and background check)
Thomas Harper, Bus Operator, Bus 6B
Donna Cross, cook TVEMS
Lindsey Knotts, Long-Term Substitute Cook, TVEMS
Craig Hyre, Bus Operator, Bus 4A
Michael Callaway, Bus Operator, Bus 1A
Robert Bennett, Cook TCHS
Margaret Loria, Cook TVEMS
Courtney Nestor, Assistant Cross Country Coach, TCHS 2021-22 school year
Kimberly McCrum, Assistant Cheer Coach, TCHS 2021-22 school year
The board has also created five new positions:
Special Education Teacher, TVEMS
Illness Mitigation Secretary
Special Education Department Specialist- one at TVEMS, one at DTEMS, one at TCHS
The board also approved a contract adjustment from 250 days to 261 days for Kim Lipscomb, Special Education Director. Lambert praised the work Kim has done in the Special Education Department. Lambert went on to state, “We had more first graders enrolled in Special Education this year than we have ever had.” This is most likely due to the virtual/blended school, kids just got behind.
The board then heard from Tracy Teets on the finance and budget. Teets is working with the school administrations with software to make it easier for them to navigate. She is also working on a segregation of duties at each school when handling finances.
The next board meeting will be Monday September 20, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. at the board office.
On Thursday September 9, 2021 the board did implement the mask mandate.