Trenton R-9 Board of Education approves summer school 2021; COVID-19 procedures and protocols discussed

Trenton R-9 School District

The Trenton R-9 Board of Education approved a scholarship recipient and grant requests during a meeting on Google Meet the evening of December 8th.

Carly Spencer was named as the John T. Belcher Scholarship recipient. Four essays were submitted for the $250 scholarship. She will go on to compete at a regional level for a $750 scholarship. Board Member Corey Leeper abstained from voting on the matter.

GEC grant requests were approved for Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Joy Bettis for $1,000 for updating sewing machines, eighth-grade science teacher Julia Keuler for $658 for students and curriculum, Connie Hoffman with Parents as Teachers for $485 for books for Parents as Teachers, and E’lisha Gass with the high school and middle school media center for $740 for the media center.

The board also approved summer school for 2021. Superintendent Mike Stegman reported the dates had not yet been determined due to unknown events that could happen with the pandemic.

Stegman discussed the change in Trenton R-9’s COVID-19 quarantine process involving not having to send students wearing masks home. The new process went into effect on December 8th. He said the district met with the health department on December 4th and agreed with the change. Students will still be contact traced and be under a quarantine otherwise. Stegman described it as being like an essential worker quarantine but for different reasons. The change would not alter athletic quarantines.

Stegman thinks some students on quarantine get into groups outside of school, and he thinks the change will be better for the schools and community. He said with one positive case since Thanksgiving, six out of seven of the students determined as close contacts could come back with the new process. He noted there have been 18 COVID-19 positives total at the high school.

Rissler Elementary School will have students practice wearing masks. It was previously reported Rissler students stay in cohort groups and were not required to wear masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed guidelines, and quarantine time has been shortened from 14 to 10 days. Stegman said that will also help with the number of students out due to COVID-19.

Board Member David Whitaker asked if school nurses check student records to see if they have asthma or allergies before sending students home. Stegman explained school nurses have worked with the health department since the beginning of the school year, and the school nurses are getting better at understanding if they should send students home. He commended the nurses and noted Trenton R-9 will meet with the health department again on December 11th.

Stegman reported the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will no longer be in effect as of January 1st. The act allows 80 hours of sick leave to employees in case of quarantine. He said some teachers have taught from home while on quarantine, so the district did not count that toward those 80 hours.

Board Secretary Susan Leeper reported five employees have run out of their 80 hours.

Stegman mentioned the Missouri School Boards Association has a resolution that would allow 10 days of paid leave in case of quarantine. He noted a staff member’s sick leave could involve a sick child of the staff member. The board did not take action on the resolution.

Stegman reported Trenton R-9 is preparing for use of alternative methods of instruction. The district did not use alternative methods of instruction on November 23rd and 24th because he did not feel it was a practical alternative at the time.

If the district institutes additional all staff workdays in the spring, it will consider using AMI days to allow the district to count those days toward the school year for students.

Board President Dorothy Taul said she thought the district should practice AMI days before actually using them. She also thought iPads could be sent home with students if there is a possibility of cause inclement weather, and an AMI day could be used instead of a snow day.

The make-up dates for no school on November 23rd and 24th are tentatively scheduled for May 20th and 21st. Stegman is concerned about student contact days. He said the district will not schedule teachers for more than the 175 days scheduled on their contracts.

The COVID-19 funding cycle is ending on December 31st. Stegman reported there may be new funds allocated in the spring semester. He said the funds so far have allowed the district to enhance its capabilities in online resources. The district has also purchased safety equipment and supplies. Some of the funds were in last school year’s budget.

Information was provided about the April 6th election. Trenton R-9 Board of Education terms will expire for Cliff Roeder and David Whitaker at the April 13th meeting.

Filing will take place from December 15th through January 19th. Interested persons may file at the district office Monday through Friday from 8 to 4 o’clock. Except for the first and last day of filing, filing will not occur on days the office is closed due to inclement weather. Filing during Winter Break will be from 8 o’clock to noon. The district office will be closed December 24th, 25th, and 31st as well as January 1st and 18th. Filing will end on January 19th at 5 o’clock.

The board entered into a closed session for discussion of personnel.

There was no presentation from a representative of Conrad and Higgins on the 2018-2019 school audit during the public portion of December 8th’s meeting due to the representative arriving late. The presentation was to be held later in the evening.