Stanly school board discusses COVID-19 precautions, safety

Published 11:31 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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Student, faculty and staff safety with the reopening of face-to-face school instruction was discussed at length at Tuesday’s meeting of the Stanly County Board of Education.

Beverly Pennington, director of student services for Stanly County Schools, said meetings with principals happened July 30 in regards to the new procedures.

According to Pennington, daily screenings for each student will take place at the schools. Staff members will take temperatures and ask diagnostic questions while another staff member will escort any students with a fever or who do not pass the questions to a designated area. Students are then tested again after a brief waiting period to confirm the fever before calling the student’s responsible party.

Parents of students will be required to fill out a form for bus riders every nine weeks acknowledging their child does not have a fever or has not been exposed to anyone with a positive test. Students will not be tested while getting on the bus, meaning parents will be responsible for a child’s condition before they get on board.

“For that bus ride, the parent is saying, ‘I will not let them ride if they have symptoms or a fever,’ ” Pennington said.

Bus and car riders will be met when coming out of their respective vehicles to have their temperature taken. Pennington said car riders will be tested and cleared before the parent drives away.

Students who do not have the form would still be allowed to ride the bus, Pennington said.

“We are not going to leave a kid on the side of the road. We can pick up the child…then isolate them from other students,” she said.

The student would then be screened at school.

All employees, including certified employees who do not normally clock in, will have to clock into the TACS system daily to confirm they do not have a fever or have been exposed to the virus.

“The first couple of days will be a slow process,” Pennington said. “Hopefully, just like the beginning of any school year, we’ll get those processes more under control.”

Each school’s nurse will be the point of contact for the county’s health department in terms of reporting students, faculty or staff which do not pass screening. Nurses will report on behalf of a school’s principal, Pennington said.

Visitors at school will be limited and screened using the security systems in place.

Any teacher who tests positive or may have been exposed would have to quarantine for 14 days, but would be eligible for federal leave for the time. SCS nurses will do contract tracing to see whom the person had been around then notify said individuals.

Pennington also said any individuals whom it had been determined they had been in close contact with would also be required to quarantine. Close contact, as defined by the CDC, would be an individual spending more than 15 cumulative minutes a day less than six feet from a person who tested positive or was exposed to another testing positive.

Exceptional students who participate in self-contained classrooms will be allowed to go to school every day for face-to-face instruction at every level, according to Interim Superintendent Vicki Calvert.

Pennington said EC students with medical, sensory or auditory reasons for not wearing a mask will have some options, including wearing specially-designed masks which are clear around the mouth or a face shield. Nurses will work with parents of EC kids to determine those needs.

Board member Anthony Graves asked about possible plexiglass barriers around tables negating the need for students to wear a mask. Pennington said masks would still be needed, while Calvert said SCS has ordered some barriers to be used in elementary schools around some kidney-shaped tables to allow kids to work in groups.

ECC, the company which supplies substitute teachers for SCS, has been tasked to assign subs to specific schools. Calvert said elementary schools will each have one substitute teacher for the first two weeks for additional help.

Pennington said personal protective equipment (PPE) is in transit to SCS. Students will receive five white masks each.

Classrooms will be sanitized ahead of the arrival of teachers. Cleaning supplies, Pennington said, will be provided by SCS. Teachers will not have to spend their own money on cleaning supplies. She said Director of Maintenance Todd Bowers told her he wants teachers to use the supplies provided because they contain the chemicals which are most effective in disinfecting.

Pennington said SCS “will always err on the side of safety.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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