In following with reasons set in President Trump’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Halifax County School Board voted to allow Halifax County Public School employees to bring their children with them into the schools while they are teaching virtually.
The board narrowly passed the motion with a 5-3 vote after lengthy debate on the topic. Voting in favor of the motion made by ED-4 trustee Jay Camp, were Camp, ED-1 trustee Kathy Fraley, ED-6 trustee and chairman Todd Moser, ED-3 trustee and vice-chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman and ED-8 trustee Walter Potts Jr.
ED-5 trustee Freddie Edmunds, ED-7 trustee Keith McDowell and ED-2 trustee Roy Keith Lloyd voted no to the motion.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, one of the qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19 is “Caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.”
Assistant Superintendent Valdivia Hall notified the board that there have already been close to 100 employees requesting some sort of childcare accommodation.
Under the motion, the employees will be allowed to bring their children to the school they work at as long as the child is of school age. The child is expected to remain with the employee at all times, and the school system will maintain no liability when it comes to the health and safety of the child. The children that do come to the schools will not be allowed to participate in any face-to-face instruction while at the school.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg clarified that this act does not just pertain to the school systems, but to every business and operation in the country.
School employees are expected to inform the school system of their reasoning for needing childcare accommodations and what type of accommodations they’d like to receive, when filling out a form.
Moser requested employees fill out a waiver form or some sort of liability form attached to the request form and to have that signed, dated and put into the employees file.
Lloyd stated that he felt that allowing this to pass would be hypocritical of him and the board.
“To allow our employees to bring their children to school when every other working parent is struggling in the county with a problem that I would argue we caused,” Lloyd said.
“We are the ones who closed it, so our answer to a problem we created is to create another problem,” he added.
Potts noted that the coronavirus caused the current distance learning situation.
Lloyd then said he stood by his original comments because they voted to close the school buildings.
Fraley told her fellow board members that she spoke to many teachers within the school system lately, some with kids and some without, and sees the need for this.
“We as a board are asking them (teachers) to do a great deal more than they have ever done in their entire career,” she said. “I know this is important to parents, and I have talked to them too but I feel this is important to offer our teachers to give them some assistance with their children so that they can then teach the rest of the children in Halifax County,” Fraley added.
In other action, the school board unanimously agreed to appoint Kathryn Allen as a student representative to the board.
Allen is a member of the Halifax Reads Book Club, JV and Varsity ACE team, peer mediation and National Honor Society member.
She will be a non-voting member of the board and give the board insight and support to the boards understanding of student issues and perspectives.
Director of maintenance and operations Steve Brumfield gave the board an update on a recent surplus sales auction held at the Daystrom building on Greens Folly Road and at the transportation garage.
Total sales from the auction were $99, 262.50 and after all fees were paid HCPS collected $88,836.35, said Brumfield.
The school also approved a request from Brumfield for the purchase of a new maintenance building/garage at a 5 to 3 vote.
Fraley, Lloyd and McDowell voted no.
Brumfield said the cost of the building will run anywhere from $25-30 thousand dollars, and it will be used to store maintenance equipment, vehicles and supplies.