Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Contact tracing is working. That’s the takeaway from the recent news that some students at East Carter High School might have been exposed to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Superintendent of schools Dr. Ronnie Dotson told the board of education last week that of the 50 students initially quarantined due to possible COVID exposure, 18 have now been released. He said the school will continue to monitor student activities, continue to observe contact tracing protocols, and take any steps necessary to minimize the spread of the virus.
These steps, which include the quarantine of anyone who has had direct contact with someone who tests positive for the virus, continue to evolve as well. For instance, Dotson explained, the definition of direct contact has been changed by the state in recent days. The original definition of direct contact was spending 15 minutes or more with someone where you were less than six feet apart. While this continues to be the standard for middle and high school students, the state now considers handing out paper to students to be direct contact, even if the teacher spends less than 15 minutes with each student. This is because of the close contact teachers must have with students to distribute papers and because of the possibility of live virus being on the paper or the indirect spread of the virus from either teacher or student to the other.
At the middle or high school level this is less of an issue, Dotson said, because students at those grade levels can pick up papers themselves, eliminating the teacher as a potential vector of contamination. But those types of things can’t always be done at the elementary level, especially for younger children.
In other action the board heard from Mrs. Samantha Thompson, at West Carter Middle School, on instructional updates. Thompson shared a video of the “talk show” she did to coincide with her lessons. The clips from Midmorning with Mrs. Thompson that were shown to the board included clips of Thompson pulling pranks on other faculty members alongside Edgar Allen Poe, who had been Thompson’s guest on her show the previous week. You can find copies of those videos on YouTube, by searching for Midmorning with Mrs. Thompson.
The board also heard about a $1.2 million grant the school system had received for Reading Initiatives between 2017 and 2020. The school system used $30,000 of those funds to help support the early learning literacy program, Building Blocks. Another $35,000 was donated directly to the Carter County Public Library, and $234,566 was used for professional development through the Kentucky Reading Project. Other funds were used for the Kentucky Literacy Project (KLIP) at the middle and high school levels, and to pay for substitutes so teachers could attend professional development academies. Another $37,775 was used for National Board Certification, with 34 participating teachers, $64,300 for Chromebook Carts, and $407,767 for various educational resources.
Dotson also gave the board an update on plans to use the Carter County Board of Education as a pass through to order Chromebooks for the Carter Christian Academy. Dotson said the board was given notice that, due to a lawsuit that prevented the use of Title I money for private schools, the district had to cancel those orders.
“I know their children need Chromebooks too, especially now,” Dotson said, but because those funds are based on free lunch counts at public schools, CCA, which is a private religious school, cannot benefit from those programs.
The board also held a public hearing on the school district facilities plan and moved to accept the hearing officer’s report at the conclusion of the hearing.
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