The Fillmore Central school board met on September 28. Board members Deb Ristau, Shelly Topness, and Jim Love were absent. Fillmore Central parent and Harmony resident Michael Himlie addressed the board with his concerns regarding the district’s lack of a mask mandate. He asked what the procedures are if someone at the school were to test positive for COVID and how contact tracing is handled with the students and staff. He noted that he had heard of other school districts implementing a mask mandate. “It seems contrary that we aren’t,” he commented, adding that he was concerned that the lack of a mask mandate could lead to a return to distance learning. Board member Craig Britton noted that the agenda that evening included COVID updates that could answer some of Himlie’s questions.
Superintendent Heath Olstad asked the board to approve the addition of a “household” section to the school’s in-person learning plan. “One thing we’ve noticed as we’ve been working through the month of September is we didn’t have any clear statement on households,” he said. The added section would include the requirement that any students who are living in the same household as someone who tests positive for COVID will need to follow the guidelines already listed in the plan. Those who have been exposed can choose to quarantine for five days and then return to school after a negative test result if they have no symptoms or quarantine for 10 days with no symptoms before returning to school. If there are no symptoms present, they can also choose to wear a mask in school for five days with a negative test or 10 days with no test. Board member Aaron Bishop asked if the five day quarantine option required the student to wait five days before being tested. Olstad informed him that it was a five day minimum quarantine even if the student is tested before that time.
The change to the in-person plan was approved.
Superintendent Olstad gave a COVID update to the board. He noted that Fillmore County Public Health had held a presentation to which the superintendents of each school district in Fillmore County were invited. They addressed vaccination clinics, gave an overview of all of their efforts, and reviewed all of the county’s COVID information. “At Fillmore Central, I feel that things are going very well right now,” Olstad said. He noted that the communication between the staff, students, and families had been great. “That will remain the most important effort by everyone – that we stay on the same page,” he commented. Currently, one staff member is in quarantine following a positive test result and two students are quarantining while awaiting test results.
Board member Sue Sikkink asked what the protocol is if a student or staff member reports a positive test result. “Every situation is handled consistently, but there is always a unique factor with every situation,” Olstad responded. He did note that the elementary school was a little easier to deal with as the students stay in the same classroom while they move around to different rooms in the high school during the school day. The high school teachers keep seating charts to allow them to conduct contact tracing if necessary.
Himlie asked if families could choose distance learning or homeschooling if they did not want to attend in-person school. Olstad told him that distance learning will only be an option if a building has to be closed, but that families were free to choose other options. “We respect the individual families’ decisions and if a family chooses to homeschool, we respect that,” he said.
The 5th and 6th grade One and Done Fundraiser began on September 28 and is once again online only. Superintendent Olstad noted that it will probably be in that format from now on. The outdoor classroom at the elementary school has been completed and is ready for use. The 7-10 grade students have taken their bus safety test and both the elementary and high school have completed their fire drills.
A FMLA request for Kayla Carroll was approved. Denise Drew was hired as support staff and Danielle Wilcox as a staff member in the business office. A resignation was accepted from Krista Uptagrafft.
Nine requests for graduate credit reimbursement and five requests for salary schedule lane changes were received from teachers. The requests were approved by the board.
The board reviewed and approved the proposed 2022 tax levy for the maximum amount. The Truth in Taxation meeting was set for December 21 at 6:01 p.m. with the regular December meeting to follow.
A number of open enrollment requests were approved.
Superintendent Olstad asked the board to approve the purchase of a Chrysler Pacifica from Nelson Auto Center. ESSER III funds will be used for the van. A motion in favor of the purchase was approved.
The next Fillmore Central school board meeting will be held on October 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Preston meeting room.