Students in the Indian Creek Local School District will not be mandated to wear masks when they return to class after the school board passed a resolution at its recent session.
During the regular session on Aug. 19, leaders approved a measure which only recommends wearing facial coverings inside the facilities. According to the rule, coverings are not mandated for “employees, students, volunteers, board members, parents or guardians, contractors, businesses, groups renting district facilities, persons attending business meetings and extracurricular activities” when entering buildings, but they must use facial coverings on public transportation provided by the district in accordance with CDC guidelines. Superintendent Dr. T.C. Chappelear said the district will continue to provide a safe environment by implementing COVID-related protocols.
“The board passed a resolution recommending, but not mandating, the wearing of a facial covering for all individuals while inside an Indian Creek facility. We will continue to utilize a minimum of three feet of spacing in classrooms when possible, clean and disinfect surfaces and classrooms and utilize ventilation as practicable,” he said. “Our middle school HVAC system has been equipped with ionization technology to provide cleaner air inside the building. We hope to have this in place in all buildings once construction and renovation are complete. We look forward to a safe return to the schools for the 2021-22 school year.”
Officials also heard from Dr. Rachel Gilman, a physician and parent who shared information regarding mask use prior to the resolution’s approval. Dr. Gilman discussed articles about COVID and said misinformation was spread about coverings, but there was no data to validate concerns about masking. She added that Jefferson County was below the vaccination goal of 70 percent and the CDC recently updated recommendations on universal masking in K-12 schools. Dr. Gilman noted the delta variant was more contagious and children comprised 15 percent of overall cases.
“Kids under 12 need vaccinations, so the only way we can protect them is masking,” she said.
Dr. Gilman added that people can practice multiple strategies of social distancing and sanitization, while those who are ill should stay home. The new school year starts at Indian Creek Middle and High schools on Aug. 27 with Cross Creek and Hills Elementary schools beginning on Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, leaders approved a three-year contract with the Indian Creek Education Association. Under the plan, teachers will receive a 2-percent pay increase annually for the duration of the contract. Dr. Chappelear was pleased to see negotiations come to a positive conclusion.
“I thought it was a great process,” he commented. “We ended up with a contract that was fair and recognizes the hard work of our teachers.”
ICEA President Karen Lloyd had thanked leaders for their cooperation, saying she appreciated their support.
On a related note, the board approved a five-year contract for the superintendent, who said he has served Indian Creek for 18 years and looks to continue his tenure with the district.
“I’m very happy. This is my 18th year of working in the school district. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I look forward to another five years.”