After the Hopkins County School Board received an updated on COVID-19 from Supt. Dr. Deanna Ashby Monday evening, it was decided to revisit the issue of returning to in-person classes at the next scheduled meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.
Originally, schools in the district were scheduled to return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 4. However, steep increases in coronavirus cases in the county have continued since Thanksgiving, including 28 deaths since Dec. 1.
“That will put us two weeks out past Christmas,” said Ashby.
Dr. Andy Belcher, the school’s director of assessment, said from the current information they have, there are 13 positive COVID-19 cases and 83 people who have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive case within the school system, including schools and central office.
The board was presented data collected since September showing there have been 73 students and 52 staff test positive for COVID-19, he said.
At November’s meeting, the board questioned Belcher on the number of substitute teachers available, which has decline in recent months.
In July, there were 167 substitutes available, as of December, there are 121 substitutes.
“We are down about 46 people from late July, which is 28% of our substitute pool that has dropped off since COVID started this year,” said Belcher.
The board also decided to permit winter sport practices inclding swim, basketball, dance, cheer and archery. Athletes would need to be screened before practice, and everyone would need to wear a mask when not actively participating.
As for middle school winter sports, dance and cheer practices were suspended. However, eighth-grade basketball players will be able to practice with the high school teams.
At the meeting, board members J.W. Durst and Susanne Wolford were recognized at their last meeting. The duo did not seek re-election to the board.
“I knew that it was going to be a progressive four years when the first meeting you all decided to go smoke free campuses right out of the gate,” said Ashby. “We are just so appreciative for what you have done.”
In other news from Monday’s meeting, the school board:
• approved the contractor bid from A&K Construction at $18,121,200 for the new Hanson Elementary School.
• went into closed session to discuss proposed or pending litigation in regards to the JUUL Vape lawsuit case.
• approved an agreement with SKY Engineering on construction documents and to advertise construction bids for the replacement cooling tower at James Madison Middle School.
• approved an invoice payment to Ronald Johnson and Associates for $676 for engineering services on the new Hanson Elementary School and Extreme Networks for $25,669.08 for wireless access points and license.
• approved Hanson Elementary School to apply for the Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries.
• recognized Brian Welch and Benton White, agriculture teachers at Madisonville North Hopkins High School, with the #LionChaser/#GiantSlayer Award.
The next scheduled board meeting for the Hopkins County Board of Education is set for 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at the Hopkins County Career and Technology Center.