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DCSS BOE updated on school opening progress

Demopolis Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff updated members of the Board of Education on plans for the reopening of schools on August 20.

From improving sanitization within classrooms and buildings to handling online learning, Kallhoff said it is a schoolwide effort involving everyone.

“We just have to do more than we’ve ever done before. We all have to get used to it and pitch in,” he said.

The school system will be cleaning daily, but there will professional “deep cleaning” once each week. The contract for that calls for about $100,000 in spending with those funds being made available through the CARES Act.

Masks will also be required, even in outdoor spaces with gatherings of 10 or more people.

“This will include football games and there will be signage placed reminding people to wear their masks,” Kallhoff said.

To assist online students living in rural areas that may have trouble with Internet connectivity, the system plans to park buses acting as Wi-Fi hot spots at specified locations where those students can go to connect.

The superintendent also addressed the need to accommodate for the “academic slide” that will exist from schools closing early in the spring.

“We are working on plans to help our students get caught up,” he said.

Efforts are also underway in providing the state mandated isolation area for students who may begin showing symptoms of the coronavirus. Every teacher will have a scanning thermometer and other health supplies. Screen guards will also be installed for bus drivers. These items are being funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The CRF will also fund technology needed for remote learning, such as Chrome books, a system wide Zoom account, Schoology training, and secure testing software.

Kallhoff said protocols have been set for teachers who need to send a student to the isolation room.

“If a child shows any symptom that student will go straight to the isolation room,” Kallhoff said.

The superintendent also reported on the current status of the Virtual Learning Academy as well as remote learning.

About 885, or one-third of Demopolis students, have registered for the Virtual Learning Academy, meaning they will be taking all their classes online from their homes.

Remote learning will be provided to on-campus students in the case classes have to be canceled or if a student has to be absent for an extended number of days. For some students missing classes, a paper packet may be required.

Students in the school system’s special education program will have a blended approach as some services will require on-campus classes.

Kallhoff said there is still much work and planning to be done.

“We still need a plan for feeding our virtual students. We also need to improve our remote learning plan in case of a shutdown. The plan we used in the spring is not acceptable; we need something for the long haul,” he said.

The system is also working on a waiver that students will sign for extra-curricular activities stating they understand the risks of COVID-19.

In the regular session of the special meeting, the board approved the following items.

• Approving a salary schedule revision for Pre-K auxiliary teacher.

• Approval of a bid from Borden Dairy to provide milk. The bid was $69,000.

• Approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Demopolis Police Department in providing School Resource Officers for each of the four campuses. The SROs are provided to schools with a split cost between the DCSS and the City of Demopolis. Kallhoff said the school system pays about $80,000 for the officers.

• Approval of contracts with Derrick McCormack for technology assistance, Architecture/Construction/Maintenance instruction with Rick Wilson and Alan Lashley, and special education support with Jennifer Jones.

The board approved the following personnel items.

• Conditional Employment — Elizabeth Dickerson as English Teacher at DHS; Lydia Williams as rotating custodian

• Approved substitute roster

• Miscellaneous personnel issues:

— The 2020-2021 salary schedule remains the same with only one change, that being an increase of Pre-K Auxiliary teacher salary from $19,223 to $20,000 per the State Department of Education Salary Matrix. 

— Modify the long-term substitute for Emily Black to be Brittney Stacey rather than Nan Dollar as approved in June.

— Regina Hill to serve as long-term substitute for Janie Basinger.

— Will Ayers to receive $3,500 supplement as varsity football assistant coach and $2,500 as head boys track coach.

The board also approved supplements for Virtual Learning Academy Lead Teachers.

Jill Tutt and Kristina Kallhoff will each serve as Lead Teachers.

Virtual Learning Academy teachers at the elementary grade levels are: Gabrielle McVay, Nicholas Seymore, Lisa Martin, Laurice Thomasson, Lindsay Thorne, Brittany Donald, Kristin Phillips, Julie Harrison, Stephanie Pittman, Sue Hughes, Jannalee Duke, Jennifer Helms, Katie Kolar, Patricia Bolden and Julia Singleton.

Virtual Learning Academy teachers at the secondary grade levels are: Trish McVay, Beth Lindsay, Nicole Aledo, Susan Browder, Kim Easly-Bell, Jackie Tripp, Allene Jones, Jami Webb, Beth Wideman, Dianne McNeill, Brasswell Brasswell, Deborah McAfee, Jack Gantt, Rebecca Pipkins, Rachel White, Caitlyn White, Cynthia Phillips, Deborah Boykin, Michael Duran, Robin Dunn, Kim Browder, Cyd Johnston, Traci Spiller, Tonya Thornton and Amie Miler.