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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
During last Thursday evening’s Board of Education meeting, Board members and attendees heard concerns regarding COVID-19 from an employee.
Tammy Bouldin, a bus driver for the school system, addressed the board to voice her concerns. When initially asked if her presentation was going to be personal or professional, she stated that she was “speaking for herself as an employee,” but that she is “concerned about some things going on.”
With the board allowing 5 minutes for her presentation, as its rules state, Bouldin provided board members with a packet of information, primarily information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
“There are several things that a lot of the employees have been discussing that we’re concerned about,” Bouldin told the board.
She presented a page of COVID-19 symptoms to the board and said that the only thing students are being sent home for is if they have a fever. She explained that students are allowed to stay at school if they have other symptoms and no fever.
She said that the employees would like for them to look at “tightening up on symptoms” and sending students home before they expose more students.
She also addressed face masks and shields, saying that students can wear shields to school, but that the CDC says face shields do not protect anyone from COVID-19 because they are open on three sides.
“The virus is airborne; it can be in the air for a few minutes up to a few hours,” Bouldin said. “Shields do not slow the virus down at all. We would like to see kids in masks. Shields do not help us.”
Additionally, she stated that the CDC recommends individuals stay home 14 days after their last exposure to a positive person. However, she said that families are getting COVID-19 and that the child who tests positive goes home for 10 days.
She added that the siblings go home with that child and are in the same house for the full 10 days, and then both return to school on the same day.
“So the child that didn’t have COVID is still in contact with a positive, contagious child for 10 days,” she said. “But then they come back to school, and they’ve still got 14 days they can show up positive. You’re going to spread it anywhere from 2-3 days prior to showing the first symptom.”
She added that most of the paperwork from the CDC she gave to the board is from the first round of COVID-19.
“We’re now on Delta,” she stated. “Delta is a lot more contagious than the first round was. It doesn’t take as long of contact to catch it.”
Bouldin said the school does have guidelines in place, but that students can still be exposed when less than 6 feet apart, breathing the same air with no masks on, and in other situations.
“Our problem is the kids aren’t wearing their masks in school,” she said. “We are battling them on the bus to get them to wear their masks. You can go, as a board member, and sit outside and watch them unload the buses or watch them load out of the school. The kids have masks under their chin, they have masks on top of their head, below their nose, hanging from one ear, and they’re hugging up on their buddies walking down the sidewalk.”
She added that although principals are trying, “we’re not distancing 3 feet coming or going to school.”
Bouldin also said that she has had students on her bus test positive for COVID-19, but that no one on her bus was quarantined.
“We’re asking that we get some support on the masking,” she said. “We need those kids masked. When you’re sitting on a bus, we don’t have 8-foot ceilings. There’s very little room between seats.”
Bouldin’s 5 minutes ran out before she finished her full presentation, and there was no other discussion on the matter.
Also during the meeting, District 33 Rep. Ben Robbins presented the board with a $7,000 for a Community Service Block Grant. He also thanked the board for what it does.
Judy Voss, bookkeeper, also presented the board with the 2022 fiscal year Capital Plan. She said they actually have money to spend for the schools and that the state bond money is to be spent by the end of September 2023.
She explained that the presented Capital Plan is preliminary suggestions and only a list of proposed projects for the board’s approval. She said the plan can be revised as needed; however, the board had to send it to the state department.
During action items later in the meeting, the board unanimously approved the 2022 fiscal year Capital Plan for the school system.
In other business, the board unanimously approved hiring Deanna Blake and Xochitl Blakely as paraprofessionals for the elementary school and Alicia Villagrana as paraprofessional for the high school, with all three being for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year.
In other employee matters, the board also unanimously approved Janet Calfee as a substitute lunchroom worker for the remainder of the school year. It also unanimously approved the transfer of Amy Stark from full-time elementary school special education teacher to part-time elementary school special education teacher, at the request of Stark, effective October 1.
The board also unanimously approved a contract with Glenwood Inc. to provide assessment services as required for special education, effective through September 30, 2022, and a contract with Glenwood Inc.’s Allan Cott School to provide special education services for a student beginning October 1 and ending September 30, 2022.
In other business, the board also unanimously approved and adopted two resolutions. One was to renew its line of credit with Regions Bank for the 2022 fiscal year, and the other was to request the State of Alabama convey the ownership deed for the Coosa County Career Tech Center property to the Coosa County Board of Education.
The latter resolution reads that the State of Alabama holds title to the property and that the board “desires to acquire ownership of the property to provide for the most effective and efficient use of the property to serve the educational interest of Coosa County.”
The deed; dated October 5, 1976; conveyed 10 acres, more or less, to the state. The adopted resolution reads, “Whereas, the board considers that it is in the best interest of the Coosa County Board of Education and that it is to the benefit of the public school interest of Coosa County that the property and improvements thereon be conveyed from the State of Alabama to the Coosa County Board of Education.”
While the board approved the resolution to have the property deeded to the board from the state, no further discussion or action has been taken yet regarding what the board will do with the property.
The board also dismissed into executive sessions four times for discipline matters.
Following a called meeting via teleconference held yesterday, the next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Coosa County Board of Education will be at 5:30 p.m. October 28.