MOREHEAD CITY — The Carteret County Board of Education will revisit a mask mandate and other health protocols during its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the multipurpose room of Morehead City Primary School.
The meeting will also be broadcast live on the school system’s YouTube channel.
A public comment time will be held at 6 p.m., followed by the regular meeting.
By 4-2 vote, the school board voted Aug. 18 to require students and staff to wear masks inside school buildings the first two weeks of the 2021-22 school year, which began Aug. 23. The board agreed to revisit the matter during its September meeting.
County Health Department Director Nina Oliver and N.C. Health Director Dr. Betsy Tilson, during the Aug. 18 meeting, urged school officials to make masks mandatory due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the county and state because of the delta variant. Gov. Roy Cooper and state heath officials have also asked local school boards to require masks, as well.
However, a group of individuals protested the move during the meeting, alleging there wasn’t enough evidence to prove masks were effective in preventing COVID-19. Some claimed the masks also caused health issues.
School officials agreed to allow parents to file for a waiver exempting their child from wearing a mask if there were health issues caused by wearing them. Thursday, the system’s public information officer could not tell the News-Times how many waivers had been requested.
School officials reported there were 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Aug. 23-26 in county schools and 68 cases Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Weekly school district data, including the number of positive cases, is set to be published by noon each Friday online.
In other action, the board is set to:
- Consider local supplements for school employees following a closed session to consider confidential personnel matters and confidential attorney-client communications.
- Consider a budget revision to the school system’s federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Stabilization, or ESSERS, spending plan.
- Receive first and second readings of several policy revisions.
- Receive school bond updates and facilities support operations updates.
- Receive comments from the superintendent and board members.
Under the consent agenda, the board is set to:
- Consider a memorandum of understanding with The Bridge Downeast on Harkers Island for an afterschool program.
- Consider a contract with Maxim Healthcare Services for the 2021-22 academic year to provide licensed health care providers and nurses to students with physical and mental disabilities. Maxim charges $40.40 per hour for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, not to exceed eight hours a day.
- Consider a $105,000 contract with Johnson Controls System for a system upgrade to proprietary software.
- Consider a contract with The Stepping Stones Group to employ six nurses. The cost of employment for a general school nurse or RN is $44 per hour, with LPNs at $41 per hour, certified nursing assistants at $31 per hour and bilingual RNs at $46 per hour.
- Consider a request from chief finance officer Kathy Carswell to fund $513,000 in capital projects from the system’s local fund balance. Agenda documents state the result is a savings to the operating budget due to the efficiency of the upgrades, which range from LED light conversions to upgrades to HVAC systems.
- Consider awarding a contract to Dell Technologies for the purchase of 100 laptops for teachers at a cost of $138,241. Money will come from federal ESSERS funds.
- Consider a request for proposals for student support services.
- Consider a MOU with the County Public Library System to develop an infrastructure that will allow students to access and use materials. This will be at no cost to the public school system.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:05 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, to add data for school system cases reported between Aug. 27-Sept. 2.