Halifax County School Board members plan to meet at Halifax County Middle School Monday at 6:30 p.m. to continue discussion about whether not to move forward with the school system’s reopening plan.
This meeting comes roughly two weeks after at least four employees working in central office located in the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax tested positive for COVID-19.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said these employees did not have any direct link with students.
“We do not believe that there has been exposure to any students from our staff,” he said at the time of the outbreak.
Some special education students returned to Halifax County Public School buildings at the beginning of October, and the plan the school board has been discussing with school staff would allow pre-K through third grade students to return next along with homeless and English learners students.
Options for students without internet access as well as those who need to complete an English writing test at Halifax County High School and CNA testing also have been a part of ongoing discussions.
To help make their determinations on school reopening, head nurse Tina Slabach has been providing health updates, and plans to update the board again Monday evening.
In September, Slabach provided data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health.
At that time, the CDC’s core indicators had Halifax County listed as “lower risk of transmission in schools.”
This is based off several indicators including the percentage of positive tests in the last 14 days, which she said stood at 3.2% at that time.
The maintenance department with Halifax County Public Schools also is working to keep transmission down.
Maintenance Director Steve Brumfield plans to present information about Phenomenal Aire Cold Plasma Generators with bipolar ionization that are being installed throughout the school system’s HVAC systems.
“Bipolar ionization technology is where the air flows through specialized tubes that make oxygen molecules from the air and convert them into charged atoms that then cluster around microparticles, surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens and viruses,” said Brumfield.
He noted that this type of technology is used in hospitals, food packaging plants and most recently, the airline industry.
Phenomenal Aire says their product produces an electric field with charged ions that “act as a natural scrubbing agent for the air passing through the field.”
Brumfield also noted that the HVAC team in the maintenance department is constantly completing preventive maintenance such as changing air filters on a quarterly basis for some and semi-annual for other units. He said it is recommended to change filters on a semi-annual to annual basis depending on the unit.
Through the efforts of this maintenance team, he said HCPS meets the air quality index levels of health concerns set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A report on extracurricular activities and driver’s education also is expected to be presented to the board, and the board plans to discuss retreat dates.
During recognitions, Lineburg is slated to present the Virginia School Board Association’s academy awards to board members.
If needed, the board plans to enter into closed session to discuss personnel matters.