Cost of PPE ‘significant’ as Upshur schools prep for Sept. 8 re-entry

BUCKHANNON – During last week’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting, members learned from Facilities Director Tim Derico summer crews have completed their work preparing for the start of school, scheduled for Sept. 8.

BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples said she had visited several Upshur County Schools.

“The painting does look nice,” Samples said, adding she had been inside a few of the schools over the last several days.

Treasurer Jeff Perkins reported he was closing out last year’s financials and said he has found “no problems.”

BOE vice president Katie Loudin asked Perkins if he was getting an idea of how much the personal protective equipment, or PPE, would cost the board and Perkins said the amount is significant. However, the school system had received some additional funding to offset the cost of the PPE, he said.

“Dr. Stankus and I talk about this on a regular basis,” Perkins said. “We were concerned about the expenditure of funds. We are to a point where we are concerned and need to keep an eye on those, but we will let you know before we end up on the wrong side.”

Samples asked about payment for invoices submitted for the cost of food over the summer distributed to children.

“Have we been paid for that?” Samples asked.

Child Health and Nutrition Director Eddie Vincent said the BOE is reimbursed monthly for those expenses.

“At the end of August, I will submit a bill for reimbursement,” he replied.

Perkins said that bill runs between $400,000 and $500,000 per month.

“We submit our bill, and we are reimbursed within 7 to 10 days, which is through the summer feeding program,” Perkins answered.

Samples said the cost and reimbursement amount is more than usually spent throughout the summer, noting the increase is due to feeding more students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next, Jodie Akers, Student Services/Transportation Director, presented a video detailing how bus runs would look for the upcoming school year.

“We have been working with our bus operators showing what loading and unloading the buses will look like for this year,” Akers said.

The video detailed that buses have been equipped with touchless hand sanitizers at the front entry doors. The video explained students will have assigned seats arranged based on age, and said at the front of the bus, pre-K students will be buckled into seats to assure their safety. In the video it said students ages 9 and up will be reminded to wear their masks, and if students do not have a mask, one will be provided to them.

Other details shared in the video include the fact that the buses will return to the garage to be cleaned and sanitized, prepping them for their upcoming runs.

Akers thanked everyone who worked hard to develop protocols for the buses and transporting students.

“Countless hours have been devoted to these conversations to determine what will be the best for our children and our community,” Akers said. “I believe they did an outstanding job demonstrating what the loading and unloading of our buses will look like.”

BOE member Pat Long asked about taking temperatures at the bus stops, and Akers said there would be no temperature taking at the bus stops. He also asked if there would be single bus runs, and Akers said there would be single bus runs (instead of multiple bus runs to pick up and deliver students to and from school).

Kayla Yocum, communications specialist for Upshur County Schools, said at all Upshur County Schools, the state has issued KidsConnect.

“This extends our wireless internet connection for the students to the property line of all school locations,” Yocum reported. “They are also installing this in all libraries and will advance to community areas such as fire departments and police stations, West Virginia State Parks and rural community centers.”

Samples said when she was in the schools, she saw the TVs were set up very low to the ground. Yocum said these are placed so they are accessible to the students because they are interactive, and they are mounted low to be ADA-compliant.

Yocum said unusable technology equipment was offered to other school districts but was refused because the equipment was outdated. She said the equipment would be collected by a recycling center, adding the school system would receive a reimbursement for the recycled items.

In other business, Upshur BOE members voted for the following:

  • To write a letter about the WVEA/UCEA resolution asking for pandemic funding.
  • To approve a memorandum of understanding with West Virginia Wesleyan College for approval of the MOU as well as an MOU for the WVWC Athletic Training Program. Samples recused herself from these votes as she teaches at Wesleyan.

Also, during Tuesday’s meeting, BOE members heard from each school principal about their re-entry plan summaries. The next Upshur County BOE meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 at Rock Cave Elementary School.

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