RSS reports steady COVID-19 cases, talks draft calendar

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools Associate Superintendent Kelly Withers says there’s been a leveling off of COVID-19 cases in the district.

Withers during Monday night’s school board meeting reported 122 staff in quarantine, equating to 4.73%, and 35 positives among them. There were 549 students in quarantine — 3.8% of the student population.

Schools have remained open this week. Withers said cases peaked last week, but have leveled off and the numbers change multiple times a day. The RSS Board of Education plans to revisit the numbers at each board meeting.

The numbers of staff have increased slightly compared to a month ago, when the district reported 111 staff in quarantine and 22 staff positives, totaling 4.3% out of school. At the same time there were 621 students out of school with 20 positives at 4.3%.

The main issue for schools is keeping enough staff to run facilities. The 122 quarantined staff are a mix across all departments.

In other news from the meeting:

• Director of Accountability Kelly Burgess presented a draft calendar to the board for the coming school year. The draft was chosen out of a few options the district used to survey stakeholders. The draft would end the first semester and begin winter break on Dec. 17 and set the final day of classes on May 20. Superintendent Tony Watlington commended the work on the calendar. The item will be up for approval at the board’s next meeting.

• Associate Superintendent of Resources Carol Herndon gave the board an overview of COVID-19 relief spending to date. The district has spent $6.8 of $10.6 million in COVID-19 related funding it has been allotted.

Herndon noted the board should not be concerned about more funding than allotted being used for low-wealth supplement and child nutrition line items, which was attributed to the district trying to use funding before a previous deadline and has already been corrected.

• The board immediately entered closed session after Watlington was sworn in as superintendent at the beginning of the meeting. The only action taken coming out of closed session was to approve the regular personnel report the board receives.

• Director of Construction Christopher Nuckolls spoke to the board about building a metal storage shed behind Carson High School for $7,000. The structure would be used to store career and technical education materials such as woodworking and masonry supplies.

The building would be placed behind the school near the CTE classrooms. Nuckolls said supplies are currently being stored in classrooms where there is limited space. Social distancing requirements have made it more difficult to store materials as well and the constraints limit the size of projects.

The project will be added to the consent agenda for the board’s next meeting.

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About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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