DOUGLAS—The Converse County School District #1 school board met on Tuesday night for their regular, monthly meeting. The board was proud to honor Laura Peasley who has been the Computer Specialist and site Tech Facilitator at DIS/DUES since the 2013-2014 school year. She has been a co-coordinator, coach, and judge for Destination Imagination with the district for 11 years. Laura teaches computer skills and critical thinking and is the “go to” person for tech issues at DIS/DUES. In addition to these critical roles, Laura also agreed to be the staff person who deployed computers to families through the DUES gym last spring during the onset of the pandemic. After prepping the computers, Laura deployed several hundred of them from the DUES gym. According to her administrators, “she greets students each morning and strives to make a personal connection with them. Laura’s dedication and work ethic truly encompass the #WhateverItTakes mindset that sets our district apart from others.”
The board also heard public comment from some constituents concerned about students wearing masks in school as well as from patrons offering positive comments about the return of in person classes in the school district. School board chairman Brandon Gilbreath stated that “although the school board does not engage in question and answers or provide response during the public comment section of meetings, the board always appreciates hearing from members of the community.”
The school district has in place an approved reopening plan which follows the state orders requiring the wearing of masks by both students and staff members when six feet of social distancing is not possible. Although there are limited exceptions, medical documentation or an individualized education plan with appropriate provisions is required. In a KWGN interview on September 7, State Superintendent Jillian Balow noted that although the state health orders have provisions for certain students, “it’s important for parents to know that those exceptions are listed; they do exist and they require a doctor’s note or something that’s written in an IEP. It would be a little more difficult to just say my child is not going to wear a mask because I choose that. There has to be a justification in place because of state health orders right now and the fact we know that masks are one precaution that we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
At a press conference on September 9, Dr. Alexia Harrist further noted, “masks are now required in schools for both staff and students…masks are only required when that six-foot distancing can’t be maintained. The evidence is really growing about the effectiveness of masks and how they can prevent transmission. Those masks when the social distancing can’t be maintained are the best way to keep students and staff from getting sick and be able to keep schools open as long as possible.” According to Harrist, the indication now is that masks are going to be important moving forward.
The district has been open for in-person learning for nearly three weeks and has not had a positive case of COVID-19 in any school building thus far.
Taylor Wagstaff, Jim Cobb, and Penny Hawk presented overviews of the summer programs offered in the district—Extended School Year (ESY), Summer School, and STEAM Camp. All summer programs were offered in-person with enhanced safety and cleaning measures. STEAM Camp served 60 students with a variety of fun and engaging learning activities. ESY and summer school were also full of activities that got students back in the classroom and re-engaged them in learning. Data was presented that showed some impressive growth in the areas of reading and math for these students.
In other business, the board approved numerous policies on second and final reading; approved a new MOU for the Teammates program at DMS; approved contracts with BOCES for our FAST, BASE, and daycare programs; accepted a large number of out-of-district students; and approved the personnel report as presented.