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Community News Jul 21st, 2021 - 14:40:53

BOE approves handbooks, return to school policy from COVID leave.

By Dave Whitaker
Jul 21, 2021, 17:36

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Several handbooks and documents were part of the agenda of Tuesday night’s monthly board meeting. They included FY22 Employee Handbook, FY22 School Nutrition Handbook, FY22 School Nutrition Sub Handbook, the FY22 Coaches Handbook, some updates to the FY22 Student Code of Conduct, an update to the Return-to-School Decision Guide, and a clarification of BCHS Final Exam Exemption that would be included in the BCHS Student Handbook.

The return to school decision guide referenced how to handle both staff and students who are exposed/test positive for COVID-19. Melissa Stewart said she’d heard from teachers who were concerned about having to give up their sick leave if they had to be quarantined. She also expressed concern about students who could be counted absent if they were sent home.

Bleckley Primary Principal Quent Floyd (who was in attendance) noted they would code quarantined students “Q” last year as long as the students did their work. It was indicated that was the policy for other schools also. Superintendent Dr. Steve Smith had no problem with continuing COVID leave for teachers. He also recommended continuing to use the “Q” code for quarantined students in order to prevent absences from causing them to miss field trips, exam exemptions, etc.

It was also agreed that any employee or student who claimed to have been vaccinated to avoid quarantining would have to produce proof of vaccination. COVID-19 leave will continue through the first semester and be revisited at the December meeting.

Though Governor Brian Kemp’s executive order precludes local districts from implementing mask mandates, there was discussion about implementing one because of the rise in cases from the delta variant. However, members agreed with Smith’s idea to begin the year without a mandate and see what the numbers look like.

On a suggestion from Mike Sasser, a separate flow chart for middle school athletics would be added to the athletic handbook. The policy clarification regarding students being able to exempt final exams at BCHS put limits on the number of absences and tardies a student could have. All were passed.

The middle school softball/baseball field will be getting lights. Approved was a bid from Graham Electric (the low bidder) to do the work for $217,000. They did the lighting of the high school track. Money was pulled from lighting the middle school tennis courts because it was believed lights on the field were a more pressing priority.

Policy GARH, which has to do with employee leave and absences, plus includes language for paid paternity leave, was passed. The state legislature had already passed a policy regarding paid paternity leave.

In an update regarding the athletic projects, Smith said the parking lot in front of the football stadium wouldn’t be completed until October. The only parking near the stadium will be the touchdown club lot. Other parts of the project are expected to be done by the August 27 home opener.

From the executive session: Dylan Cole was named BCHS boys and girls assistant tennis coach. Derrick Farrow was named BCHS boys and girls head track coach. After the executive session, members voted to start future meetings at 6 pm.

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