On Thursday, the Scottsboro Board of Education discussed alterations to the school systems bullying policy and the system’s COVID-19 performance.
Currently, there are two students who have tested positive for the Coronavirus, and there are 124 students across the district that are in quarantine for either positive tests or exposure to the Coronavirus.
A student on Scottsboro Junior High School’s Football Team recently tested positive for COVID-19 which resulted in the cancellation of team’s practice schedule for Thursday and Friday. Reyes assured Board members that the school conducted contact tracing and every student who was potentially exposed agreed to voluntarily quarantine.
Eight students were quarantined as a result of this exposure.
Reyes said that he did not expect this will impact the team’s ability to compete in a game scheduled for next Thursday.
Reyes noted that the school system had offered a free flu shot to all staff; however, not all have participated. It was noted that there was higher student participation in the program this year when compared to previous years.
Public health officials in the State of Alabama have expressed concern in the past about potential dangers of an overlapping flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic. This could lead to an increase of cases and further overload of Alabama’s already taxed hospital systems that have operated at close to capacity since the pandemic hit an initial peak in the summer.
The Board also discussed an update and change to the school system’s Unsafe School Option Procedure.
The policy is a change suggested by the Alabama State Board of Education that has been disseminated to school systems this year. It allows student who feel unsafe in their school environment to have an option for some kind of transfer.
With the addition of the policy students “who have been the victim of a violent criminal offense” would be allowed to transfer to the school system’s online learning option.
Patricia Stewart, the president of the Board of Education, noted an issue with the proposed policy’s language as it excludes nonviolent offenses that can create an unsafe environment for a student such as bullying and harassment.
Because of this, Stewart stated during the meeting that she felt that the language of the proposed change — which will potentially be voted on during the Board of Education’s Nov. 5 meeting — was too narrow.
Reyes said that he would work with council members to further examine the language.
Reyes presented a possibility of creating a Sports Pass for parents of students who are in the foster system who have multiple foster children who play a number of different sports.
This will allow the parents to purchase one pass and be able to go to the games of multiple students, Reyes also noted that the Jackson County School System has a similar policy.
Reyes also gave an update on the progress of the K-6 and Junior High re-entry to normal school environment. This has allowed some students to return to classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The superintendent also noted that High School students would not be given this option, as their courses work on a credit-based system.
The school system continues to over options for parents who do not want their students to return to an in-person school environment during the COVID-19 pandemic — there are over 100 students whose parents have continued to opt for virtual methods of instruction.
An ongoing issue that the board discussed with virtual learning was a small number of students who have not yet logged into their virtual learning platforms. Many of these students have accrued a large number of absences and the district considers some to be truant and have informed local authorities.
Willoughby noted when asked by Stewart that there is a correlation between the students who have not yet logged onto virtual education and those who had been previously cited as truant by the system.
It was noted during the meeting that a substitute workshop had been held on Oct. 7. Out of the eight people who completed the workshop, only two individuals opted to complete the process to become a substitute teacher. The process requires a background check and a paid certification before an individual can substitute for a teacher, the approximate cost is $80 out of pocket for the applicant.
The next substitute workshop will be held in January of 2021.
During the boards closing statements, Stewart and Reyes thanked all of those involved in volunteering and coordinating Scottsboro High School's Home Coming events during the last week. With Reyes specifically mentioning the contributions of Francis Coleman at the High School, and Stewart mentioning the contributions of fellow board member Lee Benson.
The Scottsboro City Board of Education will hold its next meeting on Nov. 5 — the Thursday after the general election.