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2021-22 Board Meeting Minutes » February 15, 2022 (Emergency Called Meeting)

February 15, 2022 (Emergency Called Meeting)

Summary of Board Meeting Minutes for the Special Called Meeting on February 15, 2022
The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a special called meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28659. The purpose of this meeting was to address revisions to the StrongSchools NC Public Health Toolkit. Closed Session was scheduled to begin at approximately 5:05 PM and Open Session to begin at approximately 5:30 PM.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy, the Wilkes County Board of Education voted unanimously to go into closed at 5:05 PM for the following reason:  to prevent the disclosure of information that is privileged or confidential under state or federal law, pursuant to N.C.G.S 143-318.11(a)(1); and to consult with its attorney in order to preserve the attorney-client privilege, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3); Present during this closed session were all members of the Board of Education; D. Mark Byrd, Superintendent; and Mrs. Rachel Willard, Wilkes County Health Director.

With no further business on a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman, the Board of Education voted unanimously to end closed session and return to open session at 5:32 PM.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the special meeting to order.
Present for the meeting were Chairman Mr. Randall "Rudy" Holbrook, Vice-Chairman Mrs. Sharron Huffman, Board Members Mr. Hardin Kennedy III, Mr. Kirk Walker, and Mrs. Joan Caudill. Also attending were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Technology Officer Mrs. Julie Triplett, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education Mrs. Callie Grubb, Executive Director of Federal Programs/Career & Technical Education Dr. Joe Bullis, Director of Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Secondary Education/Athletics/and School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Director of Testing & Accountability/Cultural Arts Mr. Jeffery Johnson, and Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis. Special guests included Wilkes County Law Enforcement and Wilkes County Health Director, Mrs. Rachael Willard.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the agenda was approved as presented.
Chairman Mr. Randall "Rudy" Holbrook recognized Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd for the Superintendent's Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Byrd made the following statement, "I will be short in my welcome tonight. I was riding back to the office this afternoon and started thinking about the fact that I get to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a Wilkes County Schools Board Meeting tonight, and that should be a tremendous honor.  Along those lines, just being here should be an honor for every one of us, no matter our role. It should be an honor because we still live in a place where school board meetings are about what really matters, which is what is best for students or kids. I hear stories from many places in this world where school board meetings seem to be about everything in the world except what is best for kids. So, tonight, as we say the pledge, I hope you will all take a minute to reflect on how fortunate we are to live and work in Wilkes County, and how fortunate we are to be surrounded by the people that we are. Agree or disagree, Wilkes County people still treat each other with respect, and that is what makes our county so great. Ask people who have moved here how fortunate they feel. But, we can't take that for granted either, and I challenge each of us to try to do more to keep this a community that stays focused on what matters and what is really important."

Chairman Mr. Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. Three individuals signed up to speak regarding the COVID-19 mask policy:  Mr. Jason Sargood, Ms. Teresa Ray, and Ms. Audrey Blevins. All expressed their concerns over the wearing of masks in Wilkes County Schools. A vote will be taken in the action session of the business meeting.

On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Out-of-County field trips were approved as presented.
School Group Destination Dates
North Wilkes High School Wrestling
Greensboro, NC
Wilkes Central High School Wrestling
Greensboro, NC
East Wilkes High School Wrestling
Greensboro, NC

Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. "Since June of 2020, the NC Department of Health and Human Services has released updates to the StrongSchools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12), which has helped and guided schools in our state on how to operate during a pandemic. While many have varying opinions about this toolkit, I think we all would agree that Wilkes County Schools has been very successful to this point in operating schools and keeping people safe during a pandemic. I am proud of what we have accomplished to this point."
"On February 10, 2022, we received the most updated guidance which states that moving forward, only those students or employees who test positive or are symptomatic will be required to quarantine. As I understand, mask mandates will not affect whether students are quarantined or not. Thus, as a district, we will need to determine whether to continue to require masks on our campuses or to make them optional once more. No matter the decision, masks will continue to be required on buses due to federal guidelines, and those tested positive or showing symptoms will still be required to wear mask on days 6-10 when they return to school."
"As always, we ensure that everyone is respected no matter their decision concerning masks. As of today, a monthly board vote will still be required concerning mask mandates. It is my recommendation that Wilkes County Schools return to masks being optional for everyone on our school campuses, with the exception of when people are on buses or if they are returning to school for days 6-10 after testing positive or being symptomatic."
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the masks will now be optional effective February 16, 2022. All members voted in favor of this decision.

Chairman Mr. Holbrook made the following announcement:               
  • February 21, 2022 – Required Workday
  • March 2, 2022 – Early Dismissal (Elementary 12:30 PM; Middle/High 1:00 PM)
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be March 7, 2022. The meeting will be held in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom located at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina beginning at 5:30 PM.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 5:52 PM.
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