Polk County Schools’ Superintendent Aaron Greene visited with the Rotary Club of Tryon recently to share an update on the school system’s response to Covid19. Superintendent Greene’s visit is the first in a series of meetings where community leaders share updates on what is happening in Polk County.
During his presentation, Mr. Greene shared how “proud he is of the work our teachers do each day to support the learning taking place in our schools”. In August, the Polk County Board of Education decided their schools were going to be as open as possible under current COVID19 restriction. Board Members knew students needed to be in school to receive an effective education.
Superintendent Greene told Rotary Club of Tryon members about the strategies implemented in schools to help ensure safe operations. From the first day of school, “masks were mandatory for everyone”. Grene said, “There has been a lot of confusing and contradictory information about how to stay safe during the pandemic, but it is clear that masks are an effective strategy to combat the spread of COVID19. Wearing masks was a non-negotiable requirement for attending school.” In addition to masks, the school system hired additional staff to provide increased cleaning and sanitation services, implemented health screening for everyone who entered our buildings, and implemented additional social distancing guidelines or classrooms.
Greene went on to say, “we didn’t get everything right the first time. We were committed to reviewing our operations regularly, getting input for families, teachers, and administrators, and then using that input to change what were doing.”
Currently all students in Kindergarten through 5th grade are in school 5 days a week. If families have health concerns that keep students from attending school in-person, the school system offers remote instruction for students. Students in grades 6-8 can attend school 4 days a week with Wednesday reserved so teachers can provide more in-depth instruction for their remote students. The current restrictions limit students in grade 9-12 to only two days of in-person instruction each week. The classrooms at Polk County High School do not allow for all students to attend and maintain the 6 foot social distancing required by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
With the help of the Josh Kennedy and the Polk County Health Department, Polk County Schools has employed an effective quarantine procedure for staff and students who have been in contact with COVID19. Although the schools have had students and staff test positive for COVID19, school system has seen no evidence of school spread.
Mr. Greene mentioned that the NC General Assembly and the Governor’s Office are working to update the guidance for operating schools safely. If the guidance changes, Polk County Schools will update school schedules to get students in school as much as possible.
If you are interested in learning more about what is happening in your community, consider joining the Rotary Club of Tryon. For more information, contact the Club’s President, Skip Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-200-9259.