Board receives update on state legislature’s education bills, Coming Back together plan

They also received information about next fall’s potential COVID-19 guidelines at the meeting

A+photo+of+the+district+office+building+the+morning+before+Monday%2C+Aug.+24th%27s+board+meeting.+At+the+meeting%2C+the+board+discussed+gating+criteria+for+reopening.+

By Ben Wieland

A photo of the district office building the morning before Monday, Aug. 24th’s board meeting. At the meeting, the board discussed gating criteria for reopening.

Ben Wieland, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

The school board received a legislative update from superintendent Frank Harwood and new information on the Coming Back Together plan and COVID-19 requirements at their Monday, May 3 meeting. 

Harwood recommended that the board continue to require masks in schools, in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the district’s COVID-19 advisory committee. 

“All of the districts in Johnson County and other urban areas are continuing to require masks,” Harwood said. “Less than 30 percent of people who come to school are even eligible for the vaccine.”

He added that vaccine clinics could be held over the summer in district buildings with help from outside staffers, especially after the FDA approves vaccines for students between 12 and 15 years old. 

Sharing an update on COVID-19 restrictions next school year, Harwood said all plans remained tentative. 

“As of right now, there are no finalized plans on COVID-19 mitigation strategies for next year.” Harwood said. “We’ll see where we have to be when we get to July.”

Two people spoke during patron input, each urging the board to get rid of the mask mandate. 

“If you can read my shirt from there, it says ‘my rights don’t end where your feelings begin.’” one speaker said. “There is a serious agenda being pushed by this mask mandate.”

Harwood also offered updates on current state legislation that will affect schools next year. In addition to SB 40, a bill allowing challenges to COVID-19 restrictions that has already affected the district, Harwood also informed the board that HB 2104, a bill that changes regulations and requirements for the district in regards to tax policy, will impact the district and should be addressed further during the summer. 

He also updated the board on the school budget bill — which hasn’t yet been finalized — and mentioned a litany of bills affecting schools that did pass the legislature but were vetoed by the governor. Those bills included HB 2039, which would require students to pass a civics exam to graduate high school and the controversial SB 55, which would have barred biological males from participating in female sports.

The board also recognized school nurses and contact tracers for their work throughout the pandemic. 

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, June 7.

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