By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Staff
The CCS (Cherokee Central Schools) Board of Education has maintained its decision to move to Plan A four days a week starting Monday, April 26.
During the Board’s meeting on April 19, there was continued discussion on if it was safe to open the school without capacity limits. It was agreed that while community numbers would be carefully monitored up until the day of opening, there was nothing that called for a delay. The school will be fully open Monday through Thursday.
“We’re still at zero. We’re very low, we’re in the green. So, the recommendation would that we go ahead Monday with the Plan A,” said CCS Superintendent Michael Murray.
“The only part of Plan A I can’t guarantee is the buses. So, I took the liberty of calling all three systems in our area. I talk to Swain, Jackson, and Macon and asked them how they were able to do it… all of their answers were ‘it’s impossible to do 6 feet,’” continued Murray.
Because of these concerns, Dr. Murray brought in Aaron Bradley from the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) to talk with School Board on the options they had available.
He and Superintendent Murray said that despite their best efforts, it would not be possible to maintain full social distancing on the bus at all times. The current protocols call for a minimum of three feet between students, but that is the size of a bus bench. With only one student per bench, it is not possible for to maintain this for every community given the number of drivers and buses available. This is including many stops that will accommodate families, with siblings being able to sit by each other without social distancing protocols.
Bradley said that he has made sure that his drivers understand and implement all of the other precautions required, including the wearing of masks and social distancing. He said that he does his best not to write up tickets for kids in any regular year, but that discipline will be much tighter with COVID-19 restrictions.
Bradley and Murray said they will monitor the situation and be willing to pull the plug on the operation if community numbers spike.
Superintendent Murray also brought up the point that there will be families that may change their mind last minute, and that the school has to be prepared to take care of students in any situation.
The CBC Finance team also came as guests to the meeting to offer their monthly finance update. Little has changed, with the school still significantly under budget in most categories. This is due to the lack of spending while CCS was in remote Plan C.
There was also a brief discussion on the planned trips for CCS students next summer. One of which is to Hawaii, and the other is the European trip.
A few of the Board members were concerned about signing off on these trips with the lingering question marks of the pandemic. Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper was curious if the Board had the power to pull these trips if the landscape around COVID-19 wasn’t looking better by next summer. Chairperson Jennifer Thompson confirmed that was an option if necessary.
These trips were the only two items on the consent agenda. After the brief conversation, the agenda was passed unanimously.
There were also three walk-in resolutions that were heard by the Board. Two these were pulled for further discussion, but after some clarification they were all passed. They put forth the following:
- Erin Kirkland is approved as the Cherokee Middle School Head Coach for the Wrestling program for the school year 2020-2021.
- Terri Hogner is allowed to volunteer with the Baseball program for the school year 2020-2021.
- Ethan Clapsaddle is allowed to volunteer with the Baseball program for the school year 2020-2021.
The Board finished their meeting with a closed session and training.
Later in the week, the Board voted via email poll on the issue of administrative leave for staff on Fridays.
Per a message sent by CCS School Assistant Sonya Clapsaddle, ‘Dr. Murray feels it is in the best interest of the staff to allow administrative leave on Fridays when students start back next week to 4 days, Plan A. That being said, he asked for School Boards approval to grant administrative leave for Friday’s only starting Friday, April 30 to all staff and continue till the end of May.’
This was passed 4-2 by the Board, with Karen French-Browning and Regina Ledford Rosario voting against.
The Monday, April 19 meeting of the CCS Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Vice Chair Isaac Long; Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper; Board members Gloria Griffin, Karen French-Browning, and Regina Ledford Rosario; Superintendent Michael Murray; Vice Superintendent Beverly Payne; HR Director Heather Driver; and School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle all in attendance. Wolftown Tribal Council Representative Chelsea Saunooke was late to the meeting.
The next meeting of the Board is scheduled for Monday, May 3 at 4:45 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Joyce Dugan Center for Cultural Arts on the Cherokee Central Schools campus.