Staff and students will be returning to in-person learning, according to Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Susan Avant. The announcement was made at the regular school Board meeting held May 11.
Presented as an informational item on the meeting’s agenda, Avant said the LCSS will open all schools for all students and staff in the fall for in-person learning in August. Avant said the decision was made after considering COVID-19 cases throughout the state and the vaccinations that are now available to the staff. Georgia also became the first state to open COVID-19 shots to kids under 16 on May 11.
“We are comfortable in providing our students the in-person instruction that they need and deserve,” Avant told the BOE. “The school district will continue to take necessary steps to mitigate any safety concerns. Students and staff will continue to wear masks as we continue to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
Avant said all schools will be sanitized prior to the first day of class and building readiness inspections will be completed. She said floors will remain marked for social distancing in hallways and that sanitizer stations will be installed throughout the school. She said touchless water bottle filling stations have been installed and daily and weekly sanitizing will continue in all schools. She said teachers will continue to receive disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer for their classrooms.
Board member James Johns Sr. asked if there would be any virtual options available.
“Our plan is for all students to return in person,” Avant replied.
Board member Marcus Scott IV followed up by asking what option parents have if they wish to have their children continue via virtual learning.
LCSS Superintendent, Dr. Franklin Perry said the system is concerned about educating every child and parents can call their customer service number to express concerns or ask question but added, “The district feels like we’d like to get everybody back,” he said. “But if there are certain circumstances then we certainly want to consider that.”
Avant said the customer service number is 912-318-9048.
During audience participation Timothy King of 5th Quarter Athletics asked if the Board would consider a revision of policy of the usage of school facilities. King is the coach of a travel basketball team currently comprised of seventh graders. He said the LCSS currently charges $50 per hour to use the gyms. He said they understand and are willing to pay the additional $60 cleaning fee but that $50 per hour is a steep price, especially for a non-profit, and the policy hinders current middle school athletes from learning the game.
“These fine young middle school athletes are a part of middle school sports,” King said. “It would be an honor to be able spearhead the many non-profit organizations to utilize these facilities. Currently nobody is utilizing these middle school facilities. It would be a win-win for the school board.”
King also noted the current policy only allows organizations to sign up and use the facilities four times per school year. He said if the BOE would allow them to use the facilities more often, even at a reduced rate, the system would benefit.
“We just recognized Davion Mitchell as a great student athlete,” he said. “These are your next Davion’s right here.”
During audience participation there is no response from the BOE.
The inability to use indoor gym facilities is something other organizations are grappling with since the COVID pandemic. Despite the relaxation of many COVID protocols per Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, all local public park indoor gymnasiums remain closed.
During the April 21 livestream of the Educational Hotline former Liberty County High School basketball player Donrico Wigfall said the issue is hurting the kids.
“We have kids in our program that are turning heads when we go on these tournaments,” Wigfall said adding that all they want to do is to showcase that Liberty County still has great talent to promote.
Wigfall said practicing outside is a hazard as the athletes trying to move and shift quickly over grass or asphalt. He said one of his players, Elijah Thurmon, was recently recognized by ontheradarhoops.com.
On the Radar sports writer Robert Alfonso Jr. described Thurmon as, “A 6-foot, 4 inch athlete who understands how to use his body inside. He can mix it up on
either end of the court. He called Thurmon a workhorse with a soft touch around the basket.
“And that’s with limited training,” Wigfall said. “From practicing outside. If we had a gym (indoors) just imagine what he can do.”
Scott, who is the live host of the Educational Hotline, said all kids should have access to the gyms.
Wigfall echoed King’s statement to the BOE saying he doesn’t mind paying but not and arm and a leg.
LCSS Chief Operating Officer Arnold Jackson requested the BOE approve the purchase of a new walk-in cooler/freezer from Norvell Fixture for $57,950.00. The unit will replace an older existing unit at Frank Long Elementary. The BOE also approved new insurance services from the Georgia School Boards Association in the amount of $744,818.00. The current Liability, Property and Fleet Insurance services for the District is expires June 30, 2021. The new policy will now include cyber liability for losses associated with ransomware and a network breach.
The BOE approved out of state travel for the Liberty County High School JROTC program. The Panther JROTC program has advanced to level III of the National Leadership and Academic bowl competition in Washington, D.C. on July 19-23, 2021. This will be their first time in the program history to reach the finals. Four JROTC students and two staff members will be attending the conference which will be funded by the U.S. Army.