Salem R-80 School Board had a meeting Thursday to discuss multiple topics, the longest conversation being about COVID-19.
Board members had multiple suggestions to help slow down the spread of cases, such as a mask mandate or a hybrid A/B plan (splitting class sizes). In the end, they decided to create the hybrid plan to be approved in a special meeting at a later date.
Lynn Reed, superintendent, said once the plan is approved, it will be implemented as needed, and a goal of that plan is to decide when it will be necessary to carry it out.
Reed said the state and federal government have not given certain case numbers yet for when plans like this need to be implemented.
“We definitely need a trigger,” Reed said. “That will be a part of the plan.”
The hybrid A/B plan will affect grades 6-12. By using this plan, it will cut the number of people in the same building in half at one time to allow for social distancing.
The board said as of right now, they have 11 positive cases and 50 people in quarantine. They said that now having KAJEET internet service, a service for students without internet access, they are able to better prepare for the possible future of 100% virtual learning. They said they are preparing for the possibility of a shutdown but hope that if they do, it will only be short term.
Board member Carrie Snider said she is all for a mask mandate in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m a big fan of masks,” Snider said. “But you know, I’m against the norm. Even my whole family gets mad at me. But I think there's a huge misconception with masks, and I feel like it's our job to do our duty to prevent it from spreading. And that's what the masks do. It prevents it, and it slows it down. I mean it doesn't totally prevent it. But…to me, it’s just like a seatbelt. Why would you not wear it?”
Board member Bernie Sirois disagreed about a possible mask mandate.
“My big objection is that no one’s wearing the right kind of mask,” he said. “If you’re not wearing the right kind, it’s not doing anything. There’s no masks that do a lot of good to prevent transmission.”
Even after a long discussion, the board decided not to do a mask mandate at this time and create the hybrid A/B plan instead. It will be approved in a special meeting at a later date and implemented at the necessary time decided upon the board.
In new business, a motion to approve the bus routes passed 6-0, as did the motion to approve the Special Education Compliance Plan and the motion to create a 6-12 Hybrid Schedule for future consideration.
The board appointed member Andrew Wynn to head a committee to recommend a name for the football stadium.
In closed session the board heard from a school employee concerning a personnel issue. A motion to move Janelle Frederick to the insurance/payroll pay scale passed 6-0. The motion to pay a stipend of $3,500 to Bob Homer for his services as a football mentor to interim head coach Lane Howard passed 6-0, as did the motion to move paraprofessional Mandi Conway from 7.33 hours to 8.0 hours on the paraprofessional pay scale.
The board was informed that high school attendance secretary Jamie Summers has moved to the high school principal’s secretary position.
The board discussed exploring options to create a 100% district-paid position instead of pursuing a new Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Salem for the School Resource Officer position.
• Parent Shauna Camden spoke to the board with her concerns of the Upper Elementary pickup and drop off procedures.
• In superintendent Lynn Reed’s report, she said the school’s homepage has a dashboard which includes all current information concerning COVID-19, positive tests and quarantines. She gave an update on the YOP tax credits for the new Construction Trades building. The district received their first check in the amount of $3,000.
• At William Lynch Elementary, the school successfully returned a first grade class from quarantine and were effective in meeting the needs of the students during the quarantine period. They continue to work with students who are in quarantine to make sure they do not fall behind their cohorts. The school has begun intervention for students who fell behind last spring. The focus will be on first graders and then will transition to kindergarteners. Each grade has identified essential learner outcomes in both math and English and language arts.
• At the Upper Elementary, Picture Day was Sept. 1. The company was very kind to work with on rescheduling quarantined classrooms and students that were missing due to being quarantined, principal Melanie Wisdom said. Mum sales totaled 1,378. Tutoring is taking place three days a week in multiple grades.
• Salem Middle School has had new visitor parking signs installed. Webcams, headsets and audio visual carts have been purchased, and teachers are working on their growth plans and SLOs.
• School board Liaison Report was delivered by Ryon Coursen. A total of 77 students are earning 362 dual credit hours this semester. Virtual student enrollment is at 79, or 13%, and is increasing at a steady rate of 4-5 per week. Mr. Carty and Mrs. Hogan gave information on virtual instruction, utilizing Google Classroom.