Board votes 5-2 to reaffirm classes resume January 4

CAPAC — District administrators had hoped that staff and students could delay their scheduled return to the classroom following the holidays, but a majority of school board members weren’t on board.

At Thursday’s regular meeting, the board took action to reaffirm what the school calendar stated—that classes resume January 4—in a 5 to 2 vote. President Bill Ellis and trustee Barry Geliske voted no.

Administrators proposed waiting until January 11 or 18 to return to the classroom. Supt. Jeff Terpenning said nearly all other St. Clair County schools are waiting until January 11 or later in the month to resume in-person instruction. The hope is that by taking extra time they can bypass the incubation period for those who may contract COVID-19 during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Junior high art students work on a project earlier this year. All Capac students are scheduled to return to classes January 4 after the school board rejected a proposal to extend the holiday break.

 

“Waiting and letting us get past that first week in January would increase our chances of having another strong run,” said High School Principal Nicole Kirby in reference to their hopes that the schools could have an extended period of in-person instruction—ideally until spring break—before another potential virus-related closure.

Both Capac Schools temporarily moved all students to remote learning starting November 16, for a period of two weeks, due to a staffing shortage.

That same week, a state order required all 9-12th grade learning to be done remotely. Capac opted to keep seventh and eighth grades remote after the lower grades returned to in-person learning after the Thanksgiving break. The order related to high school instruction was extended to December 20 but has since expired.

“These kids need to get back in school,” said Tim Lewis, board treasurer, upon making the motion that passed.

“I’m tired of the argument, ‘this is what the other districts are doing.’ Kids need personal interaction.”

Lewis, who is a teacher in another district, said both he and his students are struggling to make remote learning a success.

Both Kirby and Elementary Principal Rachel Ward said they and their teachers have struggled to manage all the attendance reporting requirements and communication logs when students are in quarantine. Additionally, both principals have had to handle contact tracing duties too.

“Principals have better things to do than contact tracing. We should hire someone part-time or on a temporary basis  to do that for us,” said Jim Crane, the board’s vice president.

In other meeting matters:

•the board approved a motion to give a daily pay rate increase to substitute teachers. The  current base rate is  $110 per day. Going forward, substitutes  who log 45 days with the district will earn $125 per day.