By Will Fairless
The Lee County Board of Education, during its Aug. 11 meeting, gave an update on the COVID-19 situation and heard a community speaker on the subject of Lee County schools’ recent re-openings.
Robert White addressed the board with his concerns during the time allotted for community speakers. He said that he believes teachers and parents should be allowed to choose whether their children go back to school.
“I know you guys are between a rock and a hard place with making the choice, and it’s already decided now, but there are some questions that the parents have,” he said.
White’s main concern was how absences from virtual learning will be handled.
“I’m hearing right now from parents they’re being told by teachers that if they’re not logged in at certain times, their student is gonna be counted as absent,” White said. “Me and my wife have to work, most of these parents have to work. We can’t be at home to make sure our children are logged on at certain times.”
White was worried not only about children whose parents couldn’t be at home during the day; he asked the board what accommodations would be made for children whose homes don’t have internet.
The board assured White that it and other leadership teams in the school systems would take all of those concerns into account as it makes further decisions for the school year.
James McCoy, superintendent of Lee County Schools, spoke briefly about the status of the schools with regard to COVID-19.
“If Alabama has one thing going for them strong right now, it is the masks,” McCoy said. “When we started meeting for our plan we were bright red and had been bright red for a little while. We’re not just yellow.”
“Red” and “yellow” refer to the prevalence of the coronavirus in a certain area as defined by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
McCoy noted the trend down and said that as long as that continues, there is always promise and hope that Lee County Schools could return sooner to normal conditions.
“I feel confident that the decision made by this board is the right decision; I stand by it,” McCoy said, “I hope everybody does what they’re supposed to do. I hope Governor Ivey keeps the mask ordinance in place a little longer.”
In other business, the board:
recognized Michelle Rutherford for 34 years of service with Lee County Schools.
announced that it has joined a class-action lawsuit, along with several other school systems and municipalities, against a pharmaceutical company. The lawsuit has to do with opioid addiction, it has not been filed yet, and the board can still withdraw from it.
approved the salary supplement schedule.
The Lee County Board of Education meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 2410 Society Hill Road in Opelika. Its next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8.