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COVID-19 to dominate agenda of Monday school board meeting

SALISBURY — All but two items on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board agenda Monday will be related to the impact of COVID-19 and the district’s operations since all public schools in the state were ordered to close by Gov. Roy Cooper on March 14.

The board, which postponed the meeting originally scheduled for March 23 to Monday, will hear updates on the closure, including the number of meals being served to students each weekday, which total about 25,000. Lunch and breakfast items for the next day are given to students either at regular bus stops or via car rider lines at schools. The school has about 18,000 students and is giving the meals to about 12,500 each day.

Maintenance on buildings is ongoing, but the HVAC systems are set to “non-occupied,” except for areas where food is prepared. Trash collections are also less frequent.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Julie Morrow will update the board on e-learning that began for all K-12 students last Thursday, including the social and emotional support provided for students.

Chief Technology Officer David Blattner will update the board on the device rollout to students. All work is being completed at home on tablets and laptops, and K-2 students who normally only use iPads in class have been issued the tablets to take home. Some staff without devices were issued them as well. The district has handled more than 1,200 calls to its technology help desk and swapped out 26 devices at its drive-thru repair depot.

The district has created a virtual professional development model for classified and certified faculty, including webinars and modules. Some of the professional development is intended to help employees who are not able to perform all their normal duties continue to work.

District staff on Monday also will recommend a calendar change so that every Wednesday after spring break will be one for students to catch up on assignments and give teachers time to plan. The change would not cause the district to fall below the instructional hours required by the state.

All employees are still being paid and the district has created a work-tracking form to summarize what they are doing outside of facilities.

The only items on the agenda that are not related to COVID-19, other than regular additions like public and superintendent comments, are a budget amendment, budget update and an auditor recommendation from Chief Financial Officer Carol Herndon.

Herndon will recommend hiring accounting firm Anderson Smith and Wike. The firm’s largest practice is performing audits for school districts and its proposal includes a two-hour training session for financial staff. Public entities like school districts, towns and counties are required to pay to be audited each year.

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