Jon Alder makes plans ahead of vaccine


Jonathan Alder officials are making plans for the day when they can have students back in school full time.
“There is no way to etch that in stone,” Jonathan Alder Board of Education President Shannon Foust said of district plans.
At the recent meeting, Superintendent Gary Chapman said the district last week signed a commitment to the state to be either in-person or hybrid by March 1.
He said the district is working with Madison County Health Department officials to get school employees vaccinated once the state moves into the next phase of vaccinations, scheduled to happen the first week of February.
Unfortunately, Chapman reported, Madison County is only receiving about 100 doses of the vaccine each week.
“That is the biggest concern, or the driving factor as far as when vaccines may be distributed in that phase 1B,” Chapman said.
He said health department officials will be asking school employees to register so they, “secure a dose for the respective employee.”
Chapman said the health department will report the percentage of employees that have gotten and are willing to get the vaccine.
“The intention, as far as vaccinating school employees, is to provide that on site,” Chapman said, noting it could be a district wide distribution site or sites at each school building.
District officials questioned whether the vaccinated can still be asymptomatic carriers. Chapman said there are “more questions than answers.”
“More time and more data is needed on this with our health experts,” Chapman said.
The superintendent said new guidelines about social distancing do not really impact Jonathan Alder because the district is already in compliance.
Health officials have issued new quarantine guidelines for in-school exposure. Under certain conditions, exposed students can still go to school, though they are to be quarantined for all other activities. Chapman said the current cases in the district, “all of that is from outside of school exposure.”
Officials said that if more vaccine became available and there were enough health professionals to administer the vaccines, school employees could get vaccinated the first week of February, have their second dose later that month and be ready to open the school in-person full time in early march.
Officials noted that was all, “in theory.”
School board member Steve Votaw said it is “a critical thing” to get kids back in school full time.
“The minute we can get kids back in school full time, we should be doing it,” Votaw said. “We should start making plans once our staff get the first vaccination. We should be making plans then, I think, to get them back in and get this rolling.”
Officials are planning to meet in two weeks when they will hopefully have more definite information about the vaccine distribution and health department mandates.
Officials did say holidays would impact they hybrid schedule for some students. Chapman said students in Group A, which usually attends in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday, will attend class Tuesday and Wednesday the week of Jan. 18 and Feb. 15, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day are celebrated, respectively.
District Treasurer Aaron Johnson presented an optimistic financial report.
“We are through the first six months of the fiscal year and everything is still on track with our original projections,” Johnson said. “So as of right now, I feel pretty confident we should be able to hit our original numbers.”
He said the district did not take as big of a financial hit as was originally expected as part of the pandemic.
“I think our revenues and expenditures come very close to matching up for the year, so that’s good,” Johnson said.

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