Letter to The Editor:
The State - County Leadership meeting took place on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at 1:00 pm.The following State Officials were in attendance:
Kevin Dehmer, Interim Commissioner
Kellie LeDet, Chief of Staff/Asst. Commissioner, Division of Executive Services
Daryl Minus-Vincent, Acting Asst. Commissioner, Division of Field Services
Diana Pasculli, Acting Asst. Commissioner, Division of Academics & Performance
Colleen Schulz-Eskow, Deputy Chief of Staff, Legislative Services
Kim Walker, Deputy Chief of Staff, Executive Services
Kate Gallagher, Deputy Asst. Commissioner, Division of Field Services
Jesse Young, Legislative Liaison, Legislative Services
Cailin Pletcher, Legal Liaison, Field Services
Commissioner Dr. Repollet, who was committed to attending this meeting did not attend at the last minute.
Multiple question were asked of the Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer.
Can a school district mandate that students wear a mask. Kevin Dehmer responded yes, a district can mandate that students wear masks.
Do Covid 19 screenings/temperature checks be done by any staff member or only a school nurse. Colleen Schulz-Eskow stated that they can be performed by any staff member to streamline the process of students entering the schools.
How will Fire Drills and Lockdowns be performed especially since students are trained to huddle together in a corner of a room. Daryl Minus-Vincent replied that they are working on procedures at the State level and will inform the County Superintendents when the plan is finalized.
My question was who will be responsible for the spread of the virus to teachers, staff and students if contracted in school. Daryl Minus-Vincent stated that every school district should have a liability policy and further details are being worked on by the State.
Time wise for students when parents opt out to have their children continue with virtual learning at home. Cailin Pletcher responded that time wise for students is 4 hours of instruction exclusive of lunch and recess. The State and Federal Governments wants some in-person learning
The busing issues are a major concern especially social distancing so why wouldn’t more buses be made available. Kevin Dehmer stated that this is an issue all over the state. There are not enough bus drivers as it is, more buses could not be feasible without bus drivers.
Why would bus drivers be mandated to “repair” their own buses when there is a problem. Kevin Dehmer stated this was a mandate put into effect years ago with regards to truck drivers fixing their own trucks and was passed down to bus drivers.
Public Schools were cut state aid but Charter Schools were not. Kevin Dehmer stated that a notice will go out within the next few days with regards to State Aid. There will be less funding when the report come out in August.
Who will be responsible for “Contact Tracing” . Kevin Dehmer stated that the Local Health Department/County will be responsible for “Contact Tracing”.
Federal “Cares” funding - there are 12 uses for “Cares” which include Professional Development for training; ESSA; Social Emotional programs, Supplies for cleaning; technology; vulnerable student groups who need supplies for technology for virtual learning- McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Will the government relax the 150 minute mandate for Physical Education? A hybrid formula can be used.
Will the Capitol reserve funds be relaxed. Yes, there has already been some relaxation for Capitol Reserve Funds use
How will the County Superintendents give guidance? The County Superintendents will review all plans submitted by the towns on how the health and safety of staff, teachers and students will be programed and report back to each town
Digital Divices - how will those supplies be given to students who do not have the devices or the internet. The CARES Act funds can be used for this purpose. This issue impacts every district not just urban.
There were a number of issues that the State does not have the response for but are working on many of the details. Executive Director Lawrence Feinsod forwarded a report for restart and recovery plan on July 7, 2020 in the am
Respectfully submitted by Debbie Boyle, in the position of Executive Board IP President and Board of Directors appointment as Legislative Representative for District 18 and a member of the State Finance Committee