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ALAH School Board discuss the safe return to school for students

New nurse aide position job description approved

Staff Writer

The biggest item on the table at the most recent ALAH School Board meeting was how the students in the district would have a safe return to school and whether or not they would be returning wearing a mask.

Local resident, member of the District #305 Education Foundation and an officer for the alumni association, Marty Yeakel, voiced her concerns during public comment.

“The things I want to relate are, I’m sure all things that you are aware of and have probably talked about yourselves many times, but I feel it’s important for members of the community to stand before you and let you know what they are thinking… My hope and the hope of many I believe is that our kids do not have to return to school this fall with masks. I know there has been a lot of talk about local control and that Superintendent CHeek, along with many other superintendents, have signed a letter to the governor reminding him that schools should be able to make these decisions to do what is best for their district. Wearing masks or not wearing masks should be a choice made by families.” Yeakel ended her comments with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I know of no safe repository for the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to increase their discretion by education.” Afterward, she thanked the board and the administration for the job that they had done this past year in “an unprecedented situation,” and let them know that their work was appreciated.

After that being said, the board thanked Yeakel for her comments and moved forward with the evening’s agenda.

“It seems like Deja Vu to what we were dealing with last year. I didn’t think I’d be dealing with mitigations and mandates, but here we are,” Superintendent Cheek began. “We did have a plan and we released it for some input. We had about 39 responses. Most of the responses we had were related to masking. The hot topic right now is masking – and it’s understandable. The majority of responses wanted masks to be optional,” he added. “The return to school has not been taken lightly. I have sat through several meetings – from the southern part of the state, to the northern part of the state. This looks much different in various districts. I have gathered the opinions of many,” he stated.

Cheek went on to explain that the district would mirror their language to that in regards to what the CDC has stated, so that they would remain consistent to what they have done from day one. “Our communications have always aligned from those recommendations. We need to remain consistent, moving forward,” Cheek said. He also mentioned that in doing this, it would help with their TORT liability and funding, as the district had ESSER 2 and ESSER 3 Dollars. The district is looking at a total of about three million dollars that they will be receiving.

The CDC is stating that “Masks are recommended for those who are not vaccinated.” Cheek stated that it will be the same for the school district, but he did say that he would not ask the administration to monitor the masks. “I need teachers to focus on being educational leaders instead of managers,” Cheek quoted.

The CDC is treating school buses as public transportation. Everyone who rides the school buses will be asked to wear masks, but the district will not be asking for proof of vaccination for the mask. “I will continue to use that verbiage. Masks are recommended. I know that may frustrate some, but I am sorry for that. But it is what we need and have to do,” said Cheek.

Cheek also informed the board that the district will still be observing social distancing. “A lot of what we did last year will be similar. Spacing will be three feet apart and we will make every effort to maintain space,” he said.

Daily health checks will be discontinued, but Cheek is asking that if a student is symptomatic, they should remain home. “If a student is here, we are making an assumption that they are symptom free,” he stated. There has been no guidance concerning whether a student would need a negative COVID test to return to school. Students can come back without a test- it will no longer be required. In order for a student to return, they will have to have had no fever for 24 hours (just like it was before the COVID Pandemic).

There will be some flexibility in what remote options will look like. The district will potentially Google Meet/Google Classroom- whether it be a live or recorded version. Although, the only way a student may obtain remote options will be that they have been placed in quarantine. In the lower grades (elementary), students may just have to come get their homework as they did in the past (before the pandemic). Cheek also stated that the district would continue to enforce hand-washing etiquette.

“For contact tracing, I haven’t decided what this will look like. Our admin staff spent countless hours last year doing tracing. We are leaning towards leaving it up to the health department. Our role is to educate kids. Contact tracing – that is the health department’s job. The health department has contact tracers,” stated Cheek.

“We want to keep this as normal as we can, but what we need to understand, that we have some data that we’ve kept. Our district needs to continue to work with the health department and be good stewards with them,” Cheek added. “We will make decisions collaboratively as a district. We will be monitoring and communicating as we go,” he finished.

The school district will also have access to rapid tests at the schools. They will be able to collect the tests free of charge. Testing will be done at the school with the parent’s consent. If a parent allows it, a symptomatic student can be tested. After a swab, results will be available within a 15 minute time period. Unvaccinated individuals who have close contact with COVID19, will need to be quarantined. Those who are vaccinated will not need to quarantine. “ I think it would be wise of us to host a clinic on our site – not to promote vaccines but to offer the opportunity to members of the community, not just students,” Cheek noted.

After discussing the safe return to school for students, the board discussed a new possible job position within the district. The district is looking to fulfill a Nurse’s Aide position. The aide would serve all of the buildings in the district and would take over extra paper-work and clerical duties. They also could assist with anything COVID-related. This also would allow the present nurse to do more of her own duties as a nurse. The district is looking at ESSER funds to pay for the position for a little while and then later, work it into the budget. The job description for the position of Nurse’s Aide was approved.

To wrap up the public portion of the meeting, Cheek ended on a positive note as he thanked several people who have been a help to the district.

“Summer janitorial staff including maintenance staff have done a great job. “We’ve been down a custodian. The kids we hired this summer have been awesome and have gone above and beyond. They are really good workers. We hired less kids this summer than we have in the past,” noted Cheek.

Cheek also thanked his administrative assistant. “We have auditors that are coming next week. Haley has done a nice job in preparing for that,” he stated.

“I also want to commend Mrs Graham and Mr. Peralta. I want to thank them for the work they have already done- even though it wasn’t required for them to start yet. They have been working non-stop and have already been in the buildings. I am pretty excited for both of them,” he stated.

“Last of all, I appreciate the community and their respectful feedback. I think the community does a nice job in voicing their opinions and concerns in a respectful way,” Cheek concluded.

Personnel Report
July 16, 2021


•Accept Kelsey Farmer letter of resignation from her Special Education Teaching position at ALAH HS

•Recommend for hire, Kelsey Farmer as a 1st grade teacher at AHGS


•Recommend for hire, Eilis Martinez as the Administrative Assistant at ALAH HS replacing Mrs. Lisa Hood. Eilis is an Arthur graduate and her and her husband own Los Gallos.

•Accept Mrs. Krystal Lester resignation as paraprofessional at ALAH HS


•Accept resignation from Meredith Perez as the Junior High Assistant Softball Coach

•Recommend for hire, Nicole Bracken as the Junior High Assistant Softball Coach

•Recommend for hire, Grace Hartrich as the Junior High Assistant Girls Basketball Coach

•Recommend for hire, Tracy Hood as JH Assistant Baseball Coach

•Accept resignation from Bob Slivanik as JH Assistant Baseball Coach

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