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School board discusses Covid cases in the district:Masks required in buses and buildings for 2-weeks

With the addition of COVID-19 discussion to the Jan. 10 Tea Area School Board meeting agenda, the board discussed where positive cases stood in the district as of the meeting.

Superintendent Jennifer Lowery reported that she sent a message to families and staff on Sunday, noting that the district was near the 1 percent of active cases throughout the district that would push the response level to yellow. She expected they would be at the yellow level before the end of the week. The change to level yellow would require masks in buses and in school buildings for a two-week period.

The district officially moved to level yellow status Jan. 12.

The board approved a change to the activities portion of the level yellow plan 4-1. The change included activities will be masks requested of attendees. Lowery noted that students and teachers have to attend school, but activities are a choice and are streamed online. She also noted that it is asking too much of staff working activities to try to force attendees to put a mask on. Masks will be available at the door.

She noted that finding subs for classroom teachers, para- professionals and transportation has been a struggle.

The board approved the retirements of Elaine Fredrikson as paraprofessional effective at the end of the school year and Julie Schultis as a driver effective this month. They approved the resignation of Rachel Roskam as high school counselor effective December 2021.

They approved the new hires of Keri Hovaldt as TASK adult aide and Athonee Ektnitphong as high school counselor.

The board set the board of education election date for June 21. One seat is open. They also decided to hold the high school expansion bond election the same day.

They approved the hiring of an additional high school administrative assistant for activity support for a 12-month appointment.

They discussed construction management options and the consensus was to go the way of at risk rather than agency.

The board held their first reading of Policy JEC, school admissions and Policy JGD/JGE, school suspensions/expulsions. Both policies had changes that would further clarify the details in the policies.

Lowery provided an update on building capacities. Most buildings had one or two open rooms, with Venture currently at four open rooms. The district is looking at opening the expanded high school in fall 2024 and then another elementary would need to be built after that. Further down the road, elementary buildings would go to JK-4, Legacy would change to a 5-6, the middle school would go to a 7-8 and then the high school.

The board heard from special education director Jody Taylor on an update on special education in the district. She said they saw an increase in 31 students from last year. That number was higher than they predicted from last year. The total number on the special education count day (Dec. 1) was 309 students.

After executive session, the board approved extending the superintendent’s contract from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025.

The board adjourned at 8:47 p.m.


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