After a failed resolution at the previous board meeting, the Houston School Board approved a revised health and safety plan for the 2021-2022 year, at their September 2 meeting. Before the approval, several members of the public commented once again on the masking and Covid procedures of the school.
Tara Klinski spoke against contract tracing; Kendra Van Grundy wanted the wording changed from “recommended” to “optional” masks; Brandon Olson claimed it was difficult to obtain a “prescription” to allow his elementary child to go without a mask and wanted the board to declare masks optional at the elementary.
The passed resolution recommends all students and staff to wear masks; testing (all three types of tests) will be offered by the school for students with symptoms (with parents’ consent). The district will follow the recommended decision tree from MDH. Students and staff are recommended to follow the strategies of physical distancing, hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting, staying home when ill, and contact tracing as suggested by the CDC. The superintendent is authorized to make changes as needed when time demands it. The school nurse will look at close contact quarantine situations; if both students were masked, no quarantine will be needed. According to Superintendent Morem, the room air refresh rate at the elementary is excellent with regeneration 25 times an hour.
Matt Helgerson of SitelogiQ appeared before the board to discuss the air quality ventilation project at the high school. At this point, the board needed to approve a change to the district’s10-year plan to allow for the work as well as act on a bond sale. Such action was necessary before the end of September in order to appear on the levy. He suggested they set a not to exceed limit and they could always rescind the resolution. Helgerson informed the board that this $1,660,000 project could potentially be completed with zero tax effect. ESSER funds will be used for a portion of the project. Bids on the project will be back by the end of September; bonds would not be sold until November.
A MOU (memorandum of understanding) regarding QComp was approved by the board; it had already met approval by the teachers. This was necessary because the teacher evaluation method had been changed.
After a discussion the board directed Supt. Morem to look into streaming athletic games online. A method offered by the conference would cost $3,500; Morem will check into other options as well. The board felt strongly that this was a positive way to help build community and wish to continue it in some form.
Preschool noon transportation charges are in place with an expense of $15.00/week for two days a week and $30.00/week for four days a week. Data will be tracked and the board will discuss the fees at the end of the year again.
In other business the board;
• Learned MNVA enrollment was at 1,754 and the onsite school is consistent with other years;
• Heard the online heavy equipment operation class will have a hands-on field trip day at Hinckley on October 9;
• Approved the $6,368 replacement of a door at the elementary;
• Learned a tentative agreement had been reached in teacher negotiations – language has not been completed.
The next Houston School Board meeting will be September 16 at 6 p.m. in the high school media center. The public is welcome to attend.