Kingsland School Board held a “work session” on January 4. New board members Pamela Freet and Gwen Howard were sworn in.
The meeting began with the board’s annual organizational meeting. Jackie Horsman will continue as board chair, Maranda Emig will be vice chair, Kyle Rader well serve as clerk, and Natasha Howard will be treasurer. The board also voted on a slate of subcommittee assignments for the members of the board.
Much of the work session was devoted to various COVID related plans and decisions to be made. Jackie Horsman asked, “Do you know, in the event that elementary would have to move back to hybrid, whether it was a numbers issue or a staffing issue, does Tier One have to get back up and running again, or once you take it away can you be done unless you’re DL (distance learning)?” Principal Klavetter fielded this question, replying, “So, the answer, Jackie, is most likely if we were to go back to DL or hybrid learning, we would have to provide childcare…”
Klavetter later talked about a slight easing in the state guidelines for allowing the students to eat in the cafeteria. He stated, “They are now saying that you can use the café, kids can eat in the café, if they can remain spaced at least six feet apart, and there’s not an intermingling, at the same table, of kids from different classrooms… That means we can have two kids per table in the café… So yes, while we’re in hybrid for the next couple weeks, I can probably get two grade levels at a time in the café.”
There was also discussion about whether or not bus drivers are required to wear a mask and a faceshield while driving. Dusty answered that, “I did talk with our DOT inspector, on the faceshield thing. So, there really is not a law… They’re trying to recommend that we don’t wear both while they’re driving (for purposes of clear vision).” Klavetter shared that the state guideline is that schools should “strongly recommend” that in-school staff wear masks and face shields, and he said that is what Kingsland will do. But he said it will not be required, and he explained that anyone who wears glasses is likely to experience “fogging up” when wearing both a mask and a face shield. He also said the face shields make it tough to converse. Kingsland will begin offering optional biweekly onsite COVID testing for staff, starting January 6. This testing will be via a “saliva test.”
Hecimovich gave the board an update on the addition fee being charged by the Minnesota State High School League, which is being commonly referred to as the “COVID fee.” He stated, “A lot of districts have chosen not to pay that additional fee.” Regarding what the fee is for, he said, “They’ve given no real serious concrete rationale for doing it.” Hecimovich said he hopes the board will vote to not pay the fee, and he added that he has sent letters to the state legislators (Jeremy Miller and Greg Davids) regarding this issue. He shared data showing that smaller school districts were charged a much higher “per student” fee than larger districts when this “COVID fee” rate schedule was set. The board added this as an action item for the January 20 meeting.
Athletic/Activity Director Mark Fitzpatrick submitted a report that stated basketball practices begin January 4, with the first game set for January 14. All basketball athletes will be required to wear masks during all practices and games. Dance has four meets, and must also wear masks.
Because of the Martin Luther King holiday, the Kingsland board’s next meeting will be a regular meeting on January 20 at 6 p.m.