By Taylor Boyd
The post-holiday COVID-19 surge reached its peak the week of January 16 and has slowly started to level off, Interim Schools Superintendent Jason Wood told members of the Patrick County School Board.
“This week we reported 31 positive cases and 44 quarantines, which means I think our mitigation strategies are working and we’re keeping students in school,” Wood said at the board’s Feb. 17 meeting.
Under Gov. Youngkin’s Executive Order #2, universal masking is not required, but is recommended. To ensure that the wishes of parents regarding masking are being followed in school, Wood said the division is asking parents to send notes stating their preference to their child’s school.
“If a parent does want their child to be wearing a mask, we can help remind students that their parents want them to wear it. Or, if a parent does not want their child to wear one, we will make sure their wishes are being followed as well,” Wood said.
Due to a federal mandate requiring universal masking while on public transportation, students and transportation staff members are required to continue wearing a mask while on school buses.
Staff members who are within six feet of a student are asked to wear a mask or face shield.
“We do allow staff members to write an exemption for religious reasons or have a medical note,” he added.
Wood said new information has also become available that allows staff members to follow the test to stay guidelines. During the test to stay portion, staff and students who have been exposed to COVID-19 are required to wear a mask for 10 days after exposure, and must remain asymptomatic to continue attending in-person work and school. Students and staff that receive a positive COVID-19 test or develop symptoms are to immediately isolate at home.
“We are starting to see more and more students use that program, and staff members as well, and that’s why our quarantine numbers have dropped the way they have,” Wood said.
In other matters, the board:
*Voted to employ Jason Wood as the superintendent, and approved his contract for employment as superintendent as presented.
*Recognized February as school board appreciation month.
*Recognized February as school board clerk appreciation month.
*Adopted a proclamation to accept the week of March 7 – March 11 as National School Breakfast Week.
*Accepted the superintendent’s recommendation to pursue student discipline case SDC2122-1.
*Approved the personnel report as amended.
*Approved the consent agenda.
*Approved the Jan. 11 meeting minutes as amended.
*Heard an update about the Patrick County High School’s (PCHS) Fall Standards of Learning (SOL) scores.
*Discussed the school system’s calendar. The division is on track to meet the required educational hour requirements, according to Wood, who said it will maintain the scheduled Spring Break from March 14-18 and Easter Break from April 15-18.
Wood said the 2022 graduation date also has been set to Friday, May 20. The rain date is Saturday, May 21.
*Discussed grant updates.
*Discussed the school division’s potential 2022-2023 budget.
*Accepted the Local Special Education Plan.
*Approved the revised Patrick County High School Programs of Study.