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The Palmyra R-I Board of Education approved opening up school again this year for in-house learning, following the adoption of a safe return to school plan.
The board approved the Safe Return to In-Person and Continuity of Services Plan (SRCSP), which was required by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in order to receive federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funds associated with the American Rescue Act of 2021.
The plan was approved during last week’s meeting, at which the board also heard an update on facilities and took care of back to school business.
According to the plan, which is available to read in its entirety on the school district’s website, the plan is “intended to organize the school district’s efforts to maintain safe learning and working environments in all of our buildings and transportation services until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.”
That includes instruction on the proper wearing of masks, which are not mandated now, but could be later if recommended by the health department and school board; physical distancing, contact tracing and diagnostic and screening tests.
In addition, the plan outlines accommodations for children with disabilities.
Superintendent Kirt Malone noted it has been a trying time for the district in dealing with the pandemic.
“We are entering our third school year dealing with COVID, and we continue to plan for all of our students to have a successful school year,” he said. “COVID brings an added measure of difficulty as we also need to plan for students and staff who may miss extended periods of time from school.
“As we head back to school this year our staff will continue to implement many of the same precautions as last year,“ he added, noting a few examples include additional sanitizing throughout our buildings, having sanitizing stations available in hallways and having MERV13 filters in place throughout the district which improves air filtration in the buildings.
Malone also reiterated that while masks are optional right now, they are highly recommended for everyone to wear in the school buildings.
In other business, Malone updated the board on facilities, which are ready for the students to arrive on Aug. 23.
“Driveway renovations were completed on time and will enhance the entrances to both the elementary and middle schools,” he said. “The elementary playground will soon have a new swing installed.”
The board also approved several items in preparation for the first day of school including:
• the local IDA Compliance Plan for 2021-2022;
• the MSBA policy 2021B update; and
• the student handbook and the administrative handbook for the 2021-22 school year.
In addition, the board approved Larry Seago as the district’s homeless coordinator, foster parent liaison and migrant coordinator; and Kinsey Cissna as the nondiscrimination/anti-harassment coordinator and Section 504 coordination.
Malone reported the annual audit was completed in July and initial report is positive. A final report is expected later in the year.
The building principals reported enrollment was up throughout the district with 1,181 students enrolled as of last week.
The board also discussed the plans for the MSBA fall conference, and approved the 2021-2022 substitute teacher list.
In addition, they accepted the resignation of Kathy Deters as a paraprofessional.