Mask mandate lifted by Hermitage School District, plus other board news

HERMITAGE, Ark. – In a meeting attended by five of the seven board members Monday evening, February 7, 2022, the Hermitage School Board conducted routine monthly business and took action on several other items.

After hearing a detailed report from Superintendent Dr. Tucker on the impact COVID has had on the District and the updated requirements of the State of Arkansas, the board voted 5-0 to remove the mask mandate in effect and to allow students and staff to wear a mask if they so choose, but be allowed not to wear one if they wish not to. That is unless they fall under certain state guidelines that require a mask after being quarantined. Updated state regulations require that after being tested positive for COVID, a student or staff member must stay out of school for five days. If after the five day period the individual has no symptoms they may return to school and wear a mask for all school activities for a designated time. Dr. Tucker stated the school has been through a couple of rough weeks with COVID, but it is much better at this time.

The Superintendent also reported the school had suffered a good deal of equipment damage due to a lighting strike, and while some repairs have been made, more is needed. She stated the District is investigating what can be done to prevent such damage in the future.

The board heard a report from Rosalynda Ellis. She and the Superintendent told the board the school had received an award for improvements made.

Other items mentioned included the status of the funds received from the American Rescue Plan, repairs to the Middle School, and action by the board to approve a HUB partnership with Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative. They also took action on the approval of school choice participation and approval of Board policy updates and proposed personnel policy for code of conduct.

Next, the board approved the purchase of a short, handicapped Collins Bus. It is a 14 passenger bus with a handicapped lift. Cost with funding available is $74,982.00.

The last regular item of business was discussion of the school calendar. Dr. Tucker went through the state requirements for setting a calendar and the process of consulting both certified and classified employees. She said it is virtually impossible to make everyone happy and comply with state law. After a lot of discussion, the board voted to table final approval of the calendar until the next board meeting when hopefully the members absent would be present to help make a final decision.

After returning from an executive session, the board voted to accept the resignation of Amy Evans at the end of the contract year.

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