Board receives vaccine update, staff survey data, and prom and graduation information

The board also unanimously voted to make Monday, May 3 a no-school day at their meeting Monday, March 22

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By Ben Wieland

The board meets via Zoom for their Monday, March 22 meeting.

Ben Wieland, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Superintendent Frank Harwood shared updates on the staff vaccination process, data gleaned from a district-wide staff survey about the district’s COVID-19 response, and an update on this year’s prom at the school board’s Monday, March 22 meeting. The board also voted to make Monday, May 3 a no-school day for both students and staff.

Harwood presented positive news on the COVID-19 vaccine front, announcing to the board that all staff members who requested a vaccine have received their first dose. 

Over 76% of staff members received vaccinations through the district, and Harwood estimates that once staff who received vaccinations via a different provider are counted, 85% to 90% of all district staff will be vaccinated. The district clinics for second doses of the vaccine will finish administering doses by Saturday, April 3. 

“The vaccine clinics ran extremely smoothly,” Harwood said. “They have done a tremendous job so far, and it’s been a very positive experience. We’ve heard nothing but good things from the staff about the clinics.” 

Harwood also announced that prom will take place in person this year, though details are still being ironed out by each high school’s planning committee. The venues and dates have been selected, though not yet made public. 

The vaccine clinics ran extremely smoothly. They have done a tremendous job so far, and it’s been a very positive experience.”

— superintendent Frank Harwood

Board member Ashley Spaulding thanked school administration for working to offer a prom to students this year. 

“I know it’s an important rite of passage for high schoolers, and I think the principals have done a fine job of attempting to make this happen,” Spaulding said.

Though Harwood is optimistic that plans can ultimately be made to properly contact trace and follow COVID-19 guidelines at prom, he continued to urge caution and the importance of proper preparation to avoid prom becoming a super-spreader event. 

“We don’t want prom to have to be the reason we switch back to hybrid,” Harwood said. “Let’s think about the important parts of these milestone events, think about the challenges, and then try to make sure we can keep as many important parts as possible.”

Data from a district-wide staff survey regarding COVID-19 with over 600 responses was also presented to the board. The survey revealed some encouraging data — staff concern about fully in-person learning has decreased due to vaccine access for educators and 75% of educators said that COVID-19 mitigating protocols are being adequately followed in schools. 

Harwood did single out one point of concern from the survey data: just 20% of respondents said they believed the community and district had grown closer together during the COVID-19 pandemic, while over 42% said the pandemic has created additional division. Harwood suggested that rebuilding trust between the district and its constituents will be a priority in coming years.

I know it’s an important rite of passage for high schoolers, and I think the principals have done a fine job of attempting to make this happen.”

— board member Ashley Spaulding on prom

“There have been a lot of things said over the past year that will take some time to work through,” Harwood said. “There are some relationships that need some repair — the relationship between our board and the staff and community, the relationships between colleagues, and the relationships between our district and our community.” 

The board also voted unanimously to approve two motions. The first allowed spectator limits for indoor events to be set on a case-by-case basis instead of the current blanket two-spectator rule; the second turned the district’s fourth emergency cancellation day into the aforementioned day off on Monday, May 3, creating a four-day weekend.

Summer school plans were also discussed, as the district expects to receive approximately $5.1 million in federal funds to help recoup the academic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for this summer will be limited, but in future years there will likely be a greater variety of summer courses offered, according to Harwood. 

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, April 5.

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