COVID restrictions relaxed at Mt. Vernon R-5 due to decline of cases

Kaleena Ricketts

Student, staff quarantine cases down, attendance numbers up as schools ease back in to normal schedule
Since the middle of January, the Mt. Vernon School District has seen a dramatic decline in the number of positive COVID cases, as well as a drop in individuals needing to be quarantined.
The newly released information was made public at the March 18 Mt. Vernon Board of Education meeting.
From Jan. 22 through March 18, the district saw only three positive cases, one staff member and two students, which brought the total for the school year to 74; 38 staff members and 26 students.
Because of this reduction, provisions of the current COVID-19 plan have been lessened. Temperatures are no longer being taken at the door upon entry and grades K-5 have returned to recesses as normal. The district hopes to loosen even more restrictions in the coming future.
Attendance numbers increased
Attendance numbers throughout the district have drastically increased from this time last year. The attendance percentage for February was 96 percent, which was a 33 percent swell.
Progress on projects related to the passing of Prop MVS
Also during the meeting, Superintendent Scott Cook discussed the progress of several projects that will be done with remaining funds of the passed bond issue.
These projects include, those that have been completed or planned, such as: high school gym bleacher replacement, middle school and high school gym floor refinished; high school geothermal cooling tower; high school stadium fencing/storage; middle school weight room heaters; and high school water heater replacement.
Funds will also be used for additional potential/ongoing projects, including: middle school FACS renovation; high school counseling office renovation; middle school office renovation; seal and striping of parking lots; middle school locker replacement; elementary school kitchen equipment; and middle school asphalt project.
Additional funds made available to district
In December of last year, Congressional leaders released the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which provided $54.3 billion to the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund). The Mt. Vernon School District allocation of these funds is $1,264,684, with an October 2023 spending deadline.
 Over the next three years, proposals will be in place for these qualifying projects:
-Classroom air purification systems;
-High School counselor position;
-Virtual medical visits for staff and possibly students;
-District WiFi improvements;
-Conversion to Smart TV’s from projectors;
-Virtual instruction stipends; and
-High school geothermal repair (this being the largest project and requiring a large amount of remaining bond and ESSER funding.)
Approval of new curriculum
Liz Elsey and Dr. Josh Ladd requested the approval of a new curriculum for four new classes at the high school, including: American Folklore, World Folklore, Fiction Writing and Agricultural Food Science. The board approved each of these for the upcoming school year.
Recognition of art students
Janey Hood, art instructor at the Elementary School and the Intermediate School, brought in a group of outstanding art students to be recognized. Typically, chosen artists are able to display their art in the Capital Building as part of Youth Art Month, however, due to COVID restrictions that recognition was postponed. These students, along with their artwork were recognized in front of the board.
In closed session
The board approved the following personnel recommendations:
Elementary School - Lacy Wiehe will be moving into the Elementary Interventionist Paraprofessional Position;
Intermediate School - Randi Cornell will be moving into the Intermediate Interventionist Paraprofessional Position;
High School - Ashley Finley will be joining the district in the newly created high school counseling position; Makayla Berheim will be joining the district in the new vocational agriculture position.
Special Services - Kyler Shoff was hired for a special education teaching vacancy at the high school; Wendy Lacey was hired for the Early Learning Center health clerk.
Next meeting
The next scheduled meeting of the Mount Vernon R-V Board of Education will be at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 20, in the District Office Board Room.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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