🏫 School Board Enthusiasts 🏫 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team's School Board
This meeting was relatively uneventful compared to recent meetings (and the April 12th Budget Work Session), but a key highlight is that the Board finally passed the budget for the 2021-2022...
school year! (Click here to read what the Student Voice Team had to say about this year’s community budget meetings, and be on the lookout for the final budget blog). The meeting itself got off to a slow start because the board spent the first ten minutes just rearranging the layout of events. However, the wait was worth it because Robin Bambrey, the principal of Hardy Elementary, led us through a heartfelt meditation and showed a video honoring her students’ hard work and perseverance throughout the pandemic.
The section for board matters is usually mundane and brief, but in this meeting, one particular discussion (which encompassed 26 minutes) got my attention. The board members spent this time asking questions and clarifying details on a new partnership: HCDE will be donating the old Mary Anne Garber Elementary School to be renovated into a new vocational school. The partnership has many legal and financial technicalities, which I do not entirely understand, and will not waste time getting into, but it’s safe to say that this is overall a great opportunity.
This new vocational school will educate local high school Juniors and Seniors (as well as adults) in construction-related trades. I’m excited about the potential learning opportunities that this will provide students in the future. One vocational school in Hamilton County that I am familiar with is the Sequoyah Vocational School. I have many peers who are a part of this program, and they all agree that it is an excellent option for students who don’t want to go into a four-year university straight after High School or those who just want to learn a new trade (such as cosmetology, welding, or automotive).
A standard, traditional education isn’t the best option for every student, so it is important to continue to build more options for those who would prefer to learn a trade or go straight into the workforce.The Board Members all agreed that this is an excellent opportunity for the students in the area (because the education would be free). Still, some were hesitant to donate the school because of concerns over property ownership. To be clear, this property is being donated on the condition that the organization renovates the building and acquires the materials necessary for a construction vocational school. If the school is used for anything else, it will revert back to Hamilton County School’s ownership. Overall, I’m excited to see how this school turns out and for all the students that will benefit from additional trade school options.
Larissa Robinson led this month’s presentation of delegations with concerns on the HCDE Covid-19 Policy currently carried out within our schools. Like many other parents currently in the Hamilton County school system, Mrs. Robinson was given two choices; to send her students to school or homeschool (online learning) during this school year. She continues in her speech by saying, “I felt discriminated against because I won’t put a mask on. I’ve not found any scientific evidence to show it will stop or slow the virus.”
While I can agree that masks can sometimes be an extreme annoyance when wearing for such a long period of time, this does not discredit the value and visible purpose of wearing such masks. According to the CDC Mask Guide, “When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself (...) Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.” While it is false that wearing masks will completely obstruct the spread of Covid-19 from one person to another, this doesn’t discredit the overall use of these face masks in our schools today. As a current high schooler that has already been vaccinated, I am not nearly as affected by COVID-19 as a person of older age, a person with preexisting health issues, or others not partaking in the vaccination process. Despite these factors,I am clear to remind myself that it is my responsibility to continue to wear a face mask because it keeps me safer and the other people surrounding me. In addition to the wearing of facial masks, the CDC also recommends a distancing rule of at least 6 feet when in public. This simple “6 feet” rule accounts for the airborne transmission of Covid-19 particles, where masks obstruct droplets. Mrs. Robinson suggests that schools could be more flexible about the usage of masks in classrooms. However, it is exceedingly necessary that both practices are continued and maintained in all HCDE schools to ensure the overall safety of both students and teachers. Like said before, wearing facial masks can be excessively annoying and uncomfortable for such long periods. However, we have to remind ourselves to wear protection to ensure safety within ourselves and for the rest of the HCDE community. Please be sure to check the CDC Website for more information.
This month’s school board meeting mostly covered topics in preparation for the upcoming school year of 2021-22 and specific policies currently affecting families during the remaining weeks left of this school year. From various budgeting work and planning for different schools in the Hamilton County area, I’m excited to see many of these new changes come forth and be adapted in our schools. As a current online learning student, this entire school year I’ve been able to experience learning in a new way, and while I am glad to have this experience, I hope to be back in the classroom this upcoming year. Following the concerns of many parents, including COVID-19 school procedures and school device web safety, I was surprised to hear many other perspectives. I learned a lot from this entertaining yet informative meeting. As Hamilton County is nearing the end of the current school year, I’m still sure that more issues will make an appearance before the conclusion of this year and be discussed at the next school board meeting. The Student Voice Team is very curious to see what will come and will be sure to address these thoughts moving forward. Until next time, we hope to see you there!