Pocahontas BOE Receives Current School Virus Numbers
Due to the increasing wave of Corona Virus cases in Pocahontas county, the Board of Education held their December 1st meeting remotely via Zoom Meeting in which everyone, including the Board Members and Superintendent Beam were remotely located in their homes.
Beam offered special recognition to the health officials who have been providing him with the latest virus information.
“I want to give a shout out to our nurses and our LPNs and our County Health Department for keeping me totally in tune with what’s going on around our county” said Beam. “Nurse Jenny, and Cindy and Jessica, they never hesitate to reach out to me and tell me what’s going on and what could be going on, and that is just so important to know what the landscape looks like, and I just appreciate that.”
Beam also commended Sara Riley who has organized weekly meetings on Thursdays with local businesses, churches and other stake holders in the community to discuss the pandemic’s effect on the community.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Beam said he asked Cindy Wilfong from the Health Department if it looked like the county would remain in the “orange” virus status at this Saturdays Education Map and she said it was just too soon to tell. If the county is orange on the Saturday evening map, it will keep schools closed for the next week at least.
School Nurse Jenny Friel provided the board with the current school virus numbers.
“As of now, we have seventeen students in quarantine, and that’s because they were a direct contact of a positive” said Friel. “And they are actually spread throughout the county. We have them at each school; however, the majority are at Hillsboro Elementary School (where) we have nine students right now. We have three staff members who are positive for COVID, and we have eight staff members who are having to quarantine because they are a direct contact of a positive.”
The three school Band Directors; Bob Mann, Greg Morgan, and Rick McLaughlin; talked to the board about the unique challenges the pandemic has caused to the music and band students. Not being able to do public performances and even practice together while the schools are in virtual learning are major concerns. Having just received live cameras from the schools, when the students return to in-school learning they will be able to upload performances to the social media which will help some. Mr. Mann said he has modified face masks with holes which will help students to play instruments while remaining masked. All three have modified their band rooms to keep students socially distanced when they return to school.
After approving routine financial matters, the members revisited the re-entry plan and authorized one change recommended by the superintendent. That was to allow teachers who have small children and child care problems to have their children with them in the classroom during remote learning days and delay days. Beam said the teachers had asked for this, and he felt it was appropriate and would help the teachers out who have already made so many sacrifices.
There was no approval of a personnel agenda since the only item on it was pulled.
The board changed the December 15th meeting from an afternoon LSIC meeting at Hillsboro elementary School to a 6 pm regular meeting at the board office due to the virus situation. It may be a normal meeting or a remote meeting like this meeting was, depending on virus conditions at the time.