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Elizabethton City Schools update COVID safety guidelines during special called meeting

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

On Monday, the Elizabethton City School Board held a special called meeting in the Mack Pierce Board Room to discuss any updates on the previously implemented mask mandate for the school system, as well as hear concerns from the public about the mandate.

The meeting was opened up with a call to the public, letting them come to the podium one by one and express their concerns on the usage of masks in the Elizabethton City School System.

The first public citizen to speak was Dean Davison, who started off by expressing his concern with the School Board mandating masks across the school system, saying, “The board of education needs to be concerned with the education of the students and need to let the parents do the parenting. We never freaked out about the flu, which has a higher death rate in the age group we are talking about.”

Davison was followed by many other citizens expressing similar views in regard to lifting the mask mandate, but soon after Lisa Carter made her way to the podium to explain why a mask mandate was implemented with statistics about COVID-19 in the younger age groups.

“Unfortunately what we are seeing in the region is an increase in positivity rate in COVID-19 cases in kids. Of all cases in the region, 30 percent of those are associated with kids under the age of 18. In Niswonger Children’s Hospital there are 10 patients receiving care for COVID-19, with seven of those in ICU and two unfortunately on ventilators.”

After all public comments were made, it was time for the board to discuss what changes needed to be made in terms of COVID safety guidelines. One point made during the discussion from board member Jamie Schaff emphasized just how serious of a decision the school board would be making.

“I had COVID and was in the hospital for a week, and it is a very scary experience when you don’t know if you’ll make it or not. And for the fraction of a percent that was brought up, if your child is that fraction of a percent then it hits home and becomes much more serious.”

After the discussion, a motion was made to adopt suggestions made by Director of Schools Richard VanHuss which extends the mask mandate with the opt out option through September 17.

Along with the extension, beginning Wednesday, Sept. 1, temperature checks will be required for anyone who enters a school building. Students who have been contact traced at school will be recommended to quarantine and parents will be informed of the option to return their child to school if they show no symptoms. Those students who decide to return to school must report to the nurse each day for the remainder of the quarantine period for a well check to make sure no symptoms are being exhibited.

The Elizabethton City School Board will be meeting once again for their regularly scheduled September meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the Elizabethton City Schools Central Office.