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BOE discusses COVID-19 and reducing academic testing

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Homecoming set for Nov. 6 but no parade this year

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    Gibson presents Rackley with an energy effciency certification for Jones County High School at the Oct. 6 Board of Education meeting. ALAINA CLARKE/Staff

Board of Education members began their October board meeting with praise for the way Jones County students have made it possible to continue in-person education by following safety protocols and keeping the positive numbers of COVID-19 cases down.

Board of Education Chairman Ginger Bailey called the Oct. 6 meeting to order. In her chairman’s report, she stated that the COVID-19 numbers are good, which means students can stay in school. She said she also wanted to thank parents for their support and recognize them as a big part of why things are working out.

Dr. Nancy Nash, vice chair, agreed the small number of cases is good for the schools. She said she knows students and teachers have worked hard to keep COVID-19 out of the schools, so she wanted to echo what other board members said.

“As a former teacher, I’d say come back after break and hit it hard again as if it were the first day of school as far as keeping our numbers low,” she said. “Being very diligent with mask wearing and hand washing still.”

School Superintendent Chuck Gibson announced that the homecoming game is Nov. 6, but there would not be a homecoming parade. He said there will be other activities during the week, and the high school would make those announcements.

Jones County High School Principal Lance Rackley explained the decision.

“When you have football players, cheerleaders and have concerns for the elementary school kids participating, it’s difficult to have social distancing on a trailer. It seemed this year it was best to pause there,” he said.

Assistant superintendent Geneva Braziel said she and Gibson developed a schedule to travel to each school Oct. 9 to present year of service pins. She said they also would recognize new teachers and present them with their one team, one heartbeat pins.

Under the community recognition portion of the agenda, Gibson presented Rackley with a plaque from the United States Energy Policy Act, recognizing the enhanced energy and power use at JCHS. The superintendent said the recognition was on behalf of Robertson Loia Roof, RLR architects and engineers that wanted to recognize the high school with the EPACT Energy Efficiency Certification.

Report items

Literacy Specialist Amy Marlowe said pre-kindergarten teachers in Jones County were making a mark because the students who attended pre-kindergarten are out scoring those students who did not attend pre-kindergarten.

She said she’s made a strong connection with Jones County Headstart and was able to include them in for Read Across America. She said she gave teachers books and other materials with the L4GA grant, and she hopes to get them more with her next grant.

“Right now there are 35 students enrolled who will be moving up to pre-K. The main reason for reaching out to them like this is the fact that these kids are our kids,” she said. “They are not in our school system at this moment, but they will be ours, so it’s important we keep that built up.”

Laura Rackley, executive director and CEO of the College and Career Academy, said the College and Career Academy is ahead of schedule with their website, which will be up after fall break. She said there will be a virtual tour up, so students can tour the labs since they can’t come in the building yet.

Rackley added that she applied for a Georgia Power Workforce Development Grant, so students can get a hold of more equipment. She said BASF for engineering and Speir Electrical picked out equipment that would help students in the construction program.

Executive Director of Federal Programs and Assessment Charlotte Foskey said State Superintendent Richard Woods recommended to the State Board of Education that the Georgia Milestones End-of-Course percentage weight in student’s final grade be reduced to .01 percent from 20 percent. She said the SBOE did not approve the recommendation but proposed reducing the EOC to 10 percent.

Foskey said this year the school districts are given more flexibility for testing, so students can receive more instruction time prior to the EOC. She said middle schoolers taking a high school physical science class will have to take the EOC in that course, but not the End of Grade tests.

The Jones County Board of Education will have a work session at 3 p.m. Nov. 5 and the next Board meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m., Nov. 10. Both meetings will take place in the Jones County Board of Education Professional Learning/Board Room at 131 Gordon Street.