Polk Board of Education approves virtual learning option, outlines protocols for start of school year

The Polk County Board of Education received updates on planned health protocols and approved a virtual learning option for the upcoming school year during its August meeting at Polk County Middle School.

Holding its regular monthly session, the board received an update from Superintendent Aaron Greene outlining the latest community COVID-19 statistics as well as recommended mitigation strategies from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for limiting spread in school settings.

At a specially called meeting on August 2, the board voted to have administration follow the guidance in the N.C. Strong Schools Toolkit to the fullest extent possible with the exception that the wearing of face coverings would be encouraged, but not required. Other school opening information from Monday’s meeting includes:

  • Polk County Schools will return to a full-time, schedule, five days per week, for all students
  • Students and staff will be still be monitored for symptoms and wellness, but daily temperature screenings will no longer take place
  • Families will be reminded to keep sick students at home and to consult with their family doctor or health department for further medical guidance
  • Social distancing of three feet or more will be employed whenever possible in classrooms and learning spaces, and schools will work to reduce or eliminate large, prolonged gatherings of students and staff
  • As COVID-19 is a communicable disease, Polk County Schools will continue to address positive cases according to guidance from the Polk County Health Department
  • As a general guideline, close contacts (typically those exposed to a positive individual for more than 15 minutes while less than six feet apart) will be quarantined. Factors such as masking and vaccination status may impact the duration of or need for quarantine
  • Cleaning and hygiene protocols such as frequent hand washing, regular disinfection of high touch surfaces and thorough cleaning daily will continue
  • Schools will make use of outdoor learning spaces, and open classroom doors and windows frequently to exchange air
  • Polk County Schools will begin the year limiting access to schools and classrooms, with only educational partners and service providers allowed to serve students in the school setting. The district will continue to work toward allowing visitors and volunteers on campuses in the near future
  • Face coverings are required to be worn on school transportation per federal mandate
  • A virtual option for learning for the upcoming year will be offered. Details on application and registration for this option will be provided soon
  • All students will continue to receive free breakfast and lunch at all schools for the upcoming year
  • Polk County Schools administration will regularly update the board on local and regional COVID conditions and any changing guidance

In other business:

  • Polk County High School student Chan Barber gave a presentation on the PCHS Bassmaster Team, reviewing their first year of competition and goals for the future
  • Polk County Pre-K students will attend school for half-days for the first week to help students transition to the school setting and allow for parent conferences and staff training
  • The District’s PEAK After School program will begin two weeks after the start of the year to address staffing shortages
  • Assistant Superintendent Dave Scherping gave a construction update on the PCHS HVAC project
  • The board approved two student transfers, a micro-purchasing resolution, and a final 2020-2021 budget amendment
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