COVID Numbers May Have Peaked Within the School District

Superintendent Joey Haney presents Carson Jolly with a certificate
Superintendent Joey Haney presents Officer Dell Mitchell with a certificate

Daniel Prince

Officer Dell Mitchell, student Carson Jolly honored at meeting

At Monday night’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, the only agenda items with action taken were to approve a change in the board policy dealing with cash in school buildings. The only change to the policy was to add the words “or approved designee” to the line stating that school principals are to make deposits of school monies on a daily basis at the end of each school day or after a school event. This will allow principals to designate someone to make that deposit as needed. The board voted to waive first reading and approve the change. The other action item was the approval of the personnel report.

In other items of note, Director of Administration Eric Childers made a special presentation honoring Foster Park Elementary School’s Resource Officer Dell Mitchell for his efforts in spearheading a project to provide smoke detectors to every student there in memory of Caeli Ratcliffe, who was tragically killed in a house fire last November. Frank Hart proposed a board resolution showing their appreciation to Mitchell. It passed unanimously. Director of Instruction Dr. Lacresha Byrd made a presentation honoring a student, Carson Jolly, for his perfect score in the math portion of the SC Ready test. Byrd noted Jolly was the only student in the district to log a perfect score in math.

Nurse Coordinator Kelly Walton stated it looks like district COVID numbers may have peaked with the week of August 31 through September 6, with the numbers dropping since then. Since school started, there have been a total of 28 staff cases and 189 student cases, resulting in a total of 1812 in quarantine. Walton stated the district is going back to its shortened quarantine rules, where a close contact of a positive case can be back in school after 7 days with a negative COVID test on the 5th day of quarantine or later and no symptoms. An outside group is setting up testing outside the CATE Center for the send-off PCR testing. This is being used primarily for testing those in quarantine to ensure they are ready to reenter school. There is a 24-hour turnaround in the results. In addition, a lot more rapid test kits have come in, easing the shortage that the district faced a couple weeks ago. Those tests are being used for students and staff with symptoms. She noted vaccine clinics are being set up in the district. One was held at the high school on Monday. Today, one will be held at Sims, and on Wednesday, one is scheduled at Jonesville. Parents must sign permission forms in order for their children ages 12 and older to receive the vaccine.

Dr. Lacresha Byrd stated there are 46 more students enrolled in the school district this year than last year—a total of 3874. Of those, 133 are in the virtual academy, representing around 3.4% of the total school population. State legislature capped total virtual academy enrollment at 5% of a district’s population. Dr. Wilkes noted the kindergarten numbers were extremely high this year, at around 27 students per class. Superintendent Joey Haney stated there were two reasons for that—one is a lack of space in the schools to accommodate another kindergarten class, and the other is a teacher shortage. He noted that all kindergarten teachers do have assistants in the classrooms. Board chair Gene Lipsey noted small enrollment figures in 3rd and 4th grades, with 5 and 8 students, respectively.

We’ll have more highlights from the meeting in tomorrow’s newscast.

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