Mask mandate continues

Blount County Board of Education

Last Friday, the Blount County Board of Education met in a special called meeting to address several topics, topmost being the board’s deadline to reconsider its mandatory masking policy. Barbara Robertson, school system director of nursing, provided an update on the continuing impact of COVID-19.

She reported that between Aug. 5 and Aug. 23, 153 students who were close contacts of a COVID-positive classmate also became COVID positive. Since the mask mandate went into effect, she said that number had decreased to 34.

“Until we get a vaccine for all ages and enough people actually get the vaccine, this is what we are going to have to deal with,” Robertson said. “Numbers show us that the masks are working.”

Board president Chris Latta agreed, “We started with optional masking. It didn’t work. We have the data to show that masking works. Masks have helped drive the number of cases down. They have been effective.”

Superintendent Rodney Green asked the board to consider approving his recommendation to extend the current mask policy through the end of the day on Monday, Oct. 4. He said that he and central office staff will continue to monitor school data and make recommendations to the board in hopes that conditions improve and the mask requirement can become optional again.

The board unanimously approved Green’s recommendation. The board will assess the current system-wide COVID situation during its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 4.

In other business, the board reviewed Green’s recommendations. It approved: Agreements/Contracts

• agreements with Denise Harill Reading, Comprehension and Application Interventionist, LLC; the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education; Samford University; Blount County Children’s Center for the 2021-2022 school year;

• 2021-2022 ATBE General Liability/Errors and Omissions Liability Fund Agreement to Participate Homebound contract #HB21-22/007 with Theresa Black.

• contracts with: Jennifer Arrington to serve as J.B. Pennington’s School Technology Coach, Oct. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022; Untether for Locust Fork Elementary; Terri Bibb to work additional hours at Hayden High, Sept. 20, through Oct. 31; Linda Tipton for training services during the month of September; Lori Bush to provide remote learning Sept. 13 through the conclusion of the school year; Linda Finch for Supplemental Services Sept. 15, 2021, through July 31, 2022; Caleb Salamone to serve as a Bridge Academy instructor through the first semester of the school year.

• lease agreement with AAA Environmental Services/All-Lines Leasing for a 20” Sport Edge machine.

• Blountsville Elementary’s tutoring contracts with Debra Goble and Carol Hays, Oct. 1, 2021, to May 13, 2022.

• Cleveland High’s tutoring contracts with Caleb Salamone, Josh Young, and Wendy Holmes, Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022.

• Cleveland High’s contract with John McRae for ticket sales during the 2021-2022 basketball season.

• J.B. Pennington’s football supplement contract with Todd Cassity.

• Locust Fork High’s contract with Grindl C. Weldon for At-Risk High Hopes tutoring, Oct. 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2022.

• Susan Moore High’s contracts with Farrell Walker to provide Dragon Fly administrative services during the 2021-2022 school year and Amy Hill to serve as the 2021-2022 yearbook sponsor.

• Susan Moore Elementary’s agreement with Herff Jones for 2022 yearbook publication. General

• Brian Jason Benton as a non-compensated volunteer at Hayden High.

• transfer Gail Murphree from school bus aide to school bus driver, Blount County Learning Center, effective Sept. 20.

• resignation of Keri Black and Kandace Kelley, child nutrition program workers at Southeastern. Personnel (certified)

• employment of: Karen Renee Brannon Dailey as a long-term substitute for Abigail White, Hayden Middle, beginning Sept. 21, and ending approximately Nov. 19; John E. Santoro, III as a social science teacher at J.B. Pennington, Sept. 20 (contingent upon appropriate certification through the Alabama State Department of Education) Personnel (support)

• employment of Kelli Clark, special education aide, Appalachian, beginning upon receipt of background clearance through the Alabama State Department of Education; Leesha Wallace, Special Education aide, Blount County Learning Center, beginning Oct. 5 (both contingent upon passing WorkKeys scores); Jennifer Washburn, school bus driver, Susan Moore schools, beginning Oct. 4; Jesse Marsh, school bus aide, Blount County Learning Center, beginning Sept. 20 (contingent upon obtaining school bus driver certification); Jerrie Carol Wren, custodian, Hayden Elementary and Hayden High, beginning Sept. 20, or upon the receipt of background clearance through the Alabama State Department of Education.

The next meeting of the Blount County Board of Education is Monday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m.