|Attendance Taken on 8/30/2021 at 5:30 PM|
|Present: 5, Absent: 0|
1. CALL TO ORDER
2. TIME FOR CITIZENS TO SPEAK.
Discussion: Mr. Pless: Reminded everyone that only matters related to the called meeting should be addressed. Delegations should delegate one person from their group to speak. Please stick to the five-minute limit.
Twelve people raised their hands in response to addressing the Board.
Dean Davidson: lives within the city limits of Elizabethton. Is concerned about the lack of concern discussed at the last Board Meeting. Don't want a mask mandate and don't want to quarantine for healthy children. Strain on a family and children if well children sent home to quarantine.
Heather Odom, Health Care Worker. Lives in Elizabethton. She gave statements from teachers, parents and students. We have to stop the war between us.
Kelly Merritt: Lives in Elizabethton. Thanked the Board of all that they do for our children. Stated she's the number person for the group. Ms. Merritt also stated all numbers she would refer to would be from the State Health Department, CDC, or US Census. 99.994% of school age children are un-hospitalized with COVID. She stated that the Tennessee Department of Health Recommendations for COVID-19 in schools does not recommend the use of face masks.
Josh East: lives in Carter County. Has a child at TAD. 14 year paramedic veteran. Never transported one child due to Covid in the last two years. Not proactive on having children wear masks. Contact tracing deeply flawed. The mask is just a show and doesn't help the problem.
Mr. Pless asked repeatedly that everyone state their address:
Lisa Carter, 316 E. Pine Street, Johnson City, Tennessee: Increase in positivity rate. Greater than 30% of those under the age of eighteen. Delta variant very different from alpha strain. 311 patients in hospital; 19 of those are at Niswonger : 10 are patients, 7 are in ICU, and 2 on ventilator. In August 551 pediatric ER visits. 308 visits with RSV virus. Carter County hot spot 1,498 cases. Overall 30% vaccination rate.
Gladys Gillesppie: 809 S. Second Street, Elizabethton, Tennessee. Single grandparent raising two children. Works in home health. COVID more than just the flu. Lost two people in our community over the weekend. My children are going to wear the mask.
Sarah Pippin, lives in Elizabethton did not want to give physical address due to live-streaming. Quoted Dr. Denise Sibley. The highest cases in hospitalizations and deaths were during 95% uptake of mask wearing.
Jason Woodward: Junior at EHS. School has gone downhill due to COVID. Stood up to a teacher about decision. Teacher showed anger toward him. Didn't' go back to school all last year. Many students tired of wearing masks. Most just complying. Feels school system should worry about the curriculum and let parents worry about childrens' health.
Lacy Simerly: gave her address to Mr. Wilson due to live-streaming. She read a letter from another student. Student did not have COVID but had Flu-A and bronchitis. Returned to school coughing. Was turned away from softball because of coughing. Doesn't know how to be compliant because of asthma. She also stated lots of cases of RSV. It should be a parent's choice.
Todd Hallman: 415 East H Street, Elizabethton, TN. Constant changing from the beginning of this. It's a personal choice and if there's an opt-out you should. Quality education for our children. Normalcy with our students. Very concerned about the flu. Hypersensitive arena, RSV going up. Mutual respect by everyone. Issue of personal choice. Don't enforce at church, just let them make the decision for themselves. Support our students, they need everything we can give them this year.
Mr. Wynter: Wrote an article for the Star last year on the microscopic size of COVID-19 not a mask made to stop it.
Derek Suggs, 131 Slagles Road, Elizabethton: Has a concern about contact tracing. Both children healthy but had to miss school due to contact tracing. He didn't have a chance to make a choice. Wants to be able to make the health decisions of his children.
3. DISCUSSION OF COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS.
Recommended Motion(s): Motion was made by Board Member #1, second by Board Member #2 to approve .............................. Motion carried.
No Action(s) have been added to this Agenda Item.
Discussion: COVID numbers updated on Mondays and Thursdays:
Opt-out number: 576 which is 22% of our population. 78% are wearing masks.
67 positive cases...just up one from last week.
137 students quarantined due to contact tracing.
Mask usage: 30 students not quarantined due to mask wearing.
EP: Good news to see that cases have leveled off in the last five days.
Thoughts on a way to move forward:
Everyone had great points. It's on you as a board and on the Director to make the best decisions for our students. Concerned about our kids health and safety. We never dreamed we'd be making these decisions. We're trying to navigate a difficult situation. Encourage to extend the mask mandate until September 17th with opt-out. Wed, September 1st re-institute temperature checks for all students, staff, etc. Continue contact tracing.
Positive cases would isolate. Equally concerned about students who never get sick even though contact traced. Contact parent, give parents opportunity to quarantine with testing to come back sooner, or consider students as long as asymptomatic and allow school nurse to do a well check each morning. If student exhibits symptoms we would follow Tennessee Dept of Health. Large number of healthy children to attend schools.
Exception to the rule: household contacts would be exempt from this due to eating, drinking and using the same restrooms as a family member with Covid. School based contacts remain until symptoms. Director reserves the right to make decisions if there's a grade level, school, waiver process to close a classroom or school to go virtual. Protocol will be strict. No hybrid schedules at this point. Continuous learning plan only when governor puts a certain type of state of emergency. Those scheduling options are not in place at this time. Washington County taking their inclement weather/stockpiled days to close. If we couldn't get waiver approved that's what we would have to do. This only works if everyone works together. If children are sick they need to stay home. This is a reasonable attempt to try to make delicate balance of safety and education. The performance of our students and teachers was excellent in spite of last year.
Mr. Pless appreciates everyone who spoke, varied and both ends of the spectrum. Central focus wanting kids in school and learning. Last year voted to give Director permission to make these decisions. Ultimately decision falls to the Board. 90% of his time as Director has been COVID. Has done a tremendous job. Supposed to create something from Tennessee Dept. of Health, CDC, Carter County Health Dept., Commissioner of Education. We're trying to do what's best for our children. This is our interest, don't care about what other systems do. Not a copy-cat system. Do we know difference in numbers of home contacts as opposed to school contacts? School nurses have done a tremendous job. Mr. VanHuss to get information to you for next Board Meeting.
Mr. Isaacs has sympathy for parents. Need to do whatever needed to keep children in school.
Mr. O'Quinn's children were contact traced last year. Agree with contact tracing. Parents need to keep sick children home. It's a parent's choice if you don't want child to wear a mask, just have to opt-out.
Ms. Schaff: have to follow the science. She sympathizes, has a sister that's a teacher who is medically fragile. The mask is protecting those children. We have 2000 children we care about. Learning as we go, haven't had a pandemic in 100 years. Doing the best we can.
Mr. Wilson: Don't think the mask works but wears it and models it for his own children. Youngest son asked to be vaccinated. The entire country doesn't understand it all. Believe in vaccinations.
Mr. Isaacs: made the motion to approve the adoption of the recommendations set forth by Mr. VanHuss and his staff for the COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocol to begin on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. For this to work we need cooperation from everyone.
Mr. Pless: We're sick that we're having to deal with this. Science Hill mourning the loss of a teacher to this.
Roll Call Vote
Restated for clarification: current mask mandate through Friday, September 17th. All re-evaluated at Board Meeting on September 16th. Wednesday, Sept 1st temperature checks will be completed for all students, staff and visitors at each location. Continue to contact trace and assist Carter County Health Department. Positive cases required to isolate based on Tennessee Dept. of Health. School close contacts identified and parents notified. Informed of guidance TDOH and recommendation to quarantine for a period of time based on the contact. Either follow the quarantine period or allow child to continue to attend school as long as symptom free. We will request students to wear masks and each morning required to report to nurse for well check. (Temperature, and questions about symptoms) At any point in time a student begins to show symptoms, they are required to go home and follow TDOH guidelines for that quarantine. This does not apply to household contacts due to the nature of those contacts. Mr. VanHuss to continue to follow guidelines; may close classroom or grade level and follow state guidelines based on situations in those rooms. Everyone in quarantine should be provided school work and assistance when needed. We can't alter schedule due to stipulations outlined by the Governor. Prior to this we could've gone through process to start an on-line school from the ground up. Time frame not prudent. Getting the word out tomorrow about modifications.
4. ADJOURN MEETING
Discussion: Meeting was adjourned by Board Chairman.