School board discusses new protocols in response to rising area COVID-19 cases

OSMOND — At the Tuesday, Nov. 10, meeting of the District 42R Board of Education, members discussed the school’s protocols and the adjustments that they are making in response to increasing COVID-19 cases.

According to the information they are receiving from the North Central and Elkhorn Logan Valley District Health Departments, there is limited transmission of COVID-19 in the school districts, and keeping students and staff in school is the safest place for them to be as they continue to wear masks and social distance.

Links to the district’s new protocols and other information is available on the school website, www. osmondtigers.org. The protocols include guidelines both for the school day and for activities.

In discussing the increase from only wearing masks during transition (traveling on the bus and walking between classes) to wearing masks all day, Superintendent Dave Hamm commented, “Right now we don’t have any students out, but we’re taking a risk (with the previous protocols) because one out would wipe out an entire grade.” This is in response to the CDC’s guidelines for identifying individuals who need to quarantine, which went back to 15 minutes of cumulative exposure within 24 hours instead of 15 minutes of sustained exposure.

Hamm added, “Regardless of personal beliefs on the effectiveness of mask wearing, we are bound to follow the guidelines of the CDC and NCDHD. As we have stated in the past, our goals, in order of importance, are: keep students and staff safe; keep students in school, and provide opportunities for our kids to continue to participate in extra-curricular activities.”

School Audit Discussed

A lengthy conference call with Kyle Overturf of AMGL CPAs & Advisors was held during the meeting to go over the school’s recent audit. The results of the audit indicated that there were: 1. no deficiencies in internal control that rose to the level of a material weakness; 2. all suggested adjustments were made in a timely fashion; 3. the District has 6.4 months of operating capital to cover times when receipts are low or slow to come in.

According to the list of factors bearing on the district’s future, which was provided to the auditor for his report: the General Fund tax asking for the year ending Aug. 31, 2021 of $2,916,162 is $24,243 (0.8%) higher than the tax asking for the prior year; the Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund tax asking for the same period of $80,808 is $1,010 (1.3%) higher than the tax asking for the prior year; the Special Building Fund tax asking for the same time frame of $25,253 is $25,252 (50%) lower than the tax asking for the prior year. The certified state aid for next year is $142,934. This represents a $25,678 (21.9%) increase from the prior year. Later in the meeting, the board approved the 2019-20 audit.

Principal Gives Report

Principal Kurt Polt reported that the junior and senior teams had competed well at the Lewis and Clark Academic Contest on Nov. 3 at Wayne State College; however, neither brought home medals.

The 7-12 fall vocal concert was held that evening before the school board meeting. It was moved to the gym, Polt said, to allow for social distancing of participants and the audience; masks were required to attend.

Mr. Polt announced that winter sports practice began Nov. 16, with parent meetings scheduled for Nov. 12.

The first one act performance of “Hold On” was scheduled for Nov. 14 in Wausa. There was a performance for family members at 6 p.m. and one for the communities at 8 p.m. The conference performance was scheduled for Nov. 17 at Newcastle at 10 a.m. and the district contest will be held in Wausa on Dec. 3.

The principal advised that the last day of school before Thanksgiving break is Tuesday, Nov. 24, with students returning to school on Monday, Nov. 30. He added that he will begin working on the 2021-22 school calendar soon and will keep the board updated when it is completed.

Polt also reported that the Quick Response Team was recertified for CPR at the last in-service. He advised that most of the senior banners are in and will be up, but some of the seniors haven’t taken their pictures yet. He has an idea of taking pictures at the school in the spring so that the school has them in the fall.

Mr. Polt advised that he had asked for a bid on a projector and screen for the gym; it would be something for graduation and the honors banquet and would eliminate having to move a projector in and out of the gym. He has asked seniors about paying for it from their funds.

The principal concluded by thanking the board for its support throughout the pandemic.

Superintendent Reports

Supt. Hamm advised that everyone who had requested to be signed up for the NASB state conference is registered, and he had information about how to access it virtually.

Hamm gave a report on Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance rates. Overall, health and dental rates went up 2.96%, which was close to the window of 3-5% that was negotiated. In speaking with Sarah Morfeld, the chief negotiator of the current contract, she did not think it would be a problem. Hamm said his calculations show that the district would need to add $169 to their compensation package.

Hamm reminded members that, each year in December, the board traditionally provides each staff member a gift of appreciation, and asked for ideas on what to do this year.

Hamm discussed with board members the current Directed Health Measures as they relate to winter activities and home contests. At 25% capacity, the size of the Osmond gym would restrict the school’s options as far as how many people could attend.

The superintendent briefly discussed the safety audit, which was conducted by Craig Frerichs on Oct. 14. In his review of the district’s safety plan, Frerichs said, “During my meeting with Mr. Hamm and Mr. Polt, I find very few schools who take safety and security as serious as them. I was impressed with their knowledge and expertise with school safety.”

Hamm also reported on new basketball backboards; the federal government’s free meals program, which has been extended until the end of the school year; the district’s copier contract, which expires in January; the FFA ag plot and information on the 2019 and 2020 crops; the superintendent evaluations which must be completed by the December meeting, and the Veterans Day program which was held Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Hamm congratulated Board President Michelle Reikofski for being elected as District 17 representative for the NASB board of directors, and Reikofski, Mark Moes and Larry Krohn for being reelected to serve on the District 42R board of directors.

Projects Discussed

The board discussed the proposed construction projects on the yellow building and the bus barn. Members of the project committee had met with architect Toby Gay of Gay & Associates, who provided a contract proposal for the work. Superintendent Hamm had forwarded the contract to KSB, the district’s legal advisor, who recommended splitting it into two separate contracts. After discussion, the board approved Gay and Associates as the architectural firm to work with the district on the yellow building project.

Survey Revisited

Board members once again discussed putting a list of questions together for a community survey to get thoughts on the direction of the school for the next three to 10 years. Krohn and LaDonna Stanosheck commented that, if Osmond does things like Wausa has done, the district should get small focal groups together first to get ideas before doing a community survey. Board members are to think of people for each of six different focal groups by the December meeting, with the aim of having meetings of the focal groups beginning in January.

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