School board to discuss strategic plan, COVID-19 at annual retreat

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 16, 2022

SALISBURY – Rowan-Salisbury Schools will hold its annual board retreat on Tuesday and dig into the district’s pending strategic plan.

The board will also consider a return to a mask mandate as the omicron variant spreads.

The retreat will begin at 8 a.m. on the third floor of Wallace Educational Forum. There is no live stream available for the meeting.

The board will review strategies dozens of strategies developed by administration to address the 14 goals outlined in the plan the board approved in December.

The strategies are a laundry list of tactics to make gains in interpersonal skills, academic skills, recruitment, operational efficiency and other areas.

The following are some of the strategies:

• Create a student advisory committee for the superintendent and administration.

• Create classroom and home libraries of high interest and culturally relevant materials in partnership with the community.

• Use a kindergarten screening to focus support for students before they begin school.

• Continue the competency-based learning pilot based at Morgan Elementary School and add a learning management system that supports personalized learning.

• Provide professional development for staff on social emotional learning.

• Implement an early warning system for students at risk of dropping out.

• Implement four-year plans at high schools.

• Expand paid internship and apprenticeship opportunities through industry partners.

• Align course work with community needs.

• Create advancement pipelines for staff.

• Create a teacher advisory committee to the superintendent

• Create internal capacity-building programs such as teacher assistant to teacher programs, partnering with local higher learning institutions and focus on hiring more Hispanic and Latino staff.

• Audit district’s energy use.

• Review district expenditures for good return on investment.

• Develop a marketing and communication plan.

• Create a parent academy and parent advisory committee to the superintendent.

The board will also review COVID-19 figures and consider making a change to its optional mask policy.

The administration will recommend implementing a mask requirement at schools again until the local numbers drop to lower levels again.

As of Wednesday, the district had 1,043 students in quarantine and 61 student infections. Infections more than doubled from 23 on Jan. 7 and quarantines increased significantly as well from 628.

Staff positives increased from 43 to 54 in the same time frame. However, staff positives increased more significantly when compared to the last COVID-19 tally the district had on Dec. 17, when only 15 staff members reported infections. There were 164 staff in quarantine or isolation on Wednesday.

Administration will also point to the significant surge in local positivity rates on COVID-19 test. Currently more than 31% of tests in taken in the county are returning positive results.

On Thursday the district closed three elementary schools and moved students to remote learning because of staffing shortages caused by COVID-19-related absences, though two of the three reopened on Friday.

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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