Board receives information on COVID-19 relief funds, Coming Back Together plan

Superintendent Frank Harwood shared new details on the district’s options to spend nearly $10 million in federal relief


By Ben Wieland

The school board met Monday, March 1 to discuss the Coming Back Together plan and other logistical agenda items.

Ben Wieland, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Superintendent Frank Harwood gave a presentation to the board about spending plans for COVID-19 relief funds and offered updates on the Coming Back Together plan Monday, April 19. 

Harwood informed the board that, as a result of federal relief programs like the CARES Act, the district will receive nearly $10 million in additional funding to be spent on COVID-19 recovery over the next few years. 

The money will be spent on a litany of potential projects — Harwood mentioned adding summer credit recovery opportunities, hiring new nurses or a social worker, creating new mental health programs, purchasing phonics resources for elementary school students, and improving connectivity.

None of the money has actually been designated yet, except for a $9,000 investment in virtual lab software for remote students in high school science classes. Allocation of the funds is still being determined.

Harwood also shared updates on gating criteria, the Coming Back Together plan, and potential vaccine clinics during the summer. 

Within the gating criteria, everything remained constant except for the incidence rate trendline, which moved from the “green” to “yellow” category. The incidence rate continues to decrease, though at a slower rate; the change did not move the district out of the “green” zone and fully in-person learning. 

“With the gating criteria, everything continues to look pretty good,” Harwood said. “Even though [the incidence rate trend] went up a little bit, we are still in good shape for the rest of the school year as long as the line stabilizes.”

Harwood did say that student exposures and cases in school have begun to increase, which he credited to poor mask wearing in schools.

“We have seen an uptick in student cases. The concerning part of that is that some students have not worn masks as well as they should, which has led to spread in schools,” Harwood said. “Things are looking a lot better, but we aren’t done yet. When masks are not being worn, we are seeing spread at school.”

Though the district did send parents information regarding vaccination opportunities for students older than 16 last week, they do not plan to provide any vaccination opportunities at schools during the school year. According to Harwood, nurses would be required to staff the clinics, which is not currently an option for the district. 

However, Harwood said that the district will look into offering clinics over the summer, working with county health officials. 

“At this point, we are not planning on offering optional remote [next fall]. It isn’t part of our plans right now.”

— superintendent Frank Harwood

Harwood also shared that the district planned to propose a future change to rules for online remote students that would allow them to participate in end-of-year events like fifth grade farewell. 

“Nobody will be required to come to any of these events, but if they would like to, they will be able to,” Harwood said.

He also announced that the district does not plan to offer an online remote learning option next school year. 

“At this point, we are not planning on offering optional remote [next fall]. It isn’t part of our plans right now,” Harwood said.

The board also unanimously approved bids on two projects: work on The Bridge, the district’s special education facility, and renovation of fieldhouses at Mill Valley and De Soto. 

Mill Valley’s three individual state champion wrestlers — senior Caiden Casella, senior Brodie Scott, and senior Ethan Kremer — were recognized by the board for their achievement. 

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 3.

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