CCBOE addresses coronavirus concerns, approves transfer of Garden City Elementary, recognizes high-performing staff

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Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette reads a letter of commendation to the lunchroom staff of West Point High School as he presents their CCBOE e5 Exceptional Service Award Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Dr. T.J. Franey)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette on Thursday evening addressed the coronavirus at the board’s regular business meeting, announcing that the system is prepared to close all schools temporarily if even one student tests positive.

Before the meeting, Barnette told The Tribune, “If there is a case of coronavirus in a school, the entire school system will close for an amount of time that we’re not going to say at this time, but we will close and do a thorough cleaning, and we will open back when the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education advises us that we should open back up. That could be two days or a week.”

On the CCBOE website, Barnette and Lead Nurse Kayla Burgess posted a statement which reads:

At a time of recent increased media coverage concerning the coronavirus or COVID-19, I wanted to reach out and make sure you all are as informed as you can be concerning the virus. Our school system, as are all school systems in Alabama, are in close contact [with] the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama State Department of Public Health concerning the virus outbreak occurring around the globe. Recent cases regarding community spread (person-to-person) raises some concerns and questions for many people. I hope to alleviate some of that stress, by explaining what we know and what our plan is as a school system. The virus has not yet surfaced in Alabama, while it has been confirmed in neighboring states, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. Anyone who meets these criteria should refrain from coming to school and contact their healthcare provider immediately for instructions.

  • Traveled outside of the United States
  • Had close contact with someone who recently traveled internationally and was sick, and who now has:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble Breathing

 

The immediate risk of the coronavirus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, we are taking precautions to help respond in this public health threat:

  • Everyday preventative actions include:

o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

o Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

o Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

o Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

o Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Classroom preventative actions include:

o Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

o Play a game with students to teach them how to properly wash their hands such as singing through the ABCs while washing his or her hands.

o Promote to students not to touch their faces.

 

At the meeting, Barnette encouraged parents to visit the system’s coronavirus information page for more information. That information is located at www.ccboe.org/announcements/what_s_new/more_information_on_coronavirus_from_c_c_b_o_e.

Exceptional Service Awards

The board took time at the beginning of the meeting to recognize recipients of March’s CCBOE e5 Exceptional Service Award, including:

  • Jocelyn Logan, Good Hope Elementary School teacher. Her recommendation letter read, in part, “Ms. Logan goes above and beyond to make sure that every one of our students knows she cares for them.”
  • CCBOE Maintenance Department. The staff who, according to Barnette, received multiple recommendations from across the system, was represented at the meeting by John McKinney, Phillip White, Ricky Smith, Rodney Turner and Roger Hamm. “We’re blessed. To have as small a maintenance staff as we have, we pull off miracles every day by how great our schools are right now, and a lot of it’s because of you guys.”
  • West Point High School and Elementary School lunchroom staff. Leah Ransom, April Rusk, Ashley Millwood, Pam Baggett, Lynn Malin, Susan Byram, Erin Phillips, Connie Duke, Nora Campbell, Donna Freeman and Candace Knowles. West Point High School Principal Heith Yearwood personally came to commend the staff especially for the extra work it puts in on the school’s after-school feeding program, with approximately 1,500 meals served daily.

 

Other board business

The board voted to transfer ownership of the old Garden City Elementary School building to the Town of Garden City. No discussion took place before the vote, but during the board’s work session beforehand, member Heath Albright pointed out that the CCBOE owns a number of properties across the county which the system does not use but still has to insure and maintain.

Said Allbright, “Over the last several years, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get rid of some of those costs.”

Barnette added that several area community centers are still officially CCBOE properties, and he hopes to see a number of buildings transferred from the system to local entities.

The board also voted to allow the new Cullman County Youth Volleyball League to use CCBOE facilities without having to pay usage fees for its first year.

Said Barnette, “We never had a youth program for volleyball, and we have a group of volunteers that are starting that up in our school system, and hopefully, this fall we’ll have a lot of young people getting a jump start on volleyball.”

The CCBOE meets next April 16, 2020 for a work session at 5:30 p.m. with regular meeting following immediately, at the central office. The public is invited to attend.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com