Neosho School Board discusses quarantine update, new building designs

Local News

The Neosho School Board met to discuss updates on district quarantine updates and building additions. The board stated that, after various meetings over the weekend in discussion of the previously proposed quarantine guidelines, they have decided on a finalized decision to go back to implementing the CDC’s guidelines of the 14-day quarantine. 

“Well, there’s a level of frustration from the standpoint of we thought we had a great plan for serving our students and many of our students’ best interest is to be in school, and so there’s some frustration with the way that it became a political issue,” said Jim Cummins, Neosho superintendent. “At the end of the day I have to look at what’s best for our school in the long term and I think right now that is to pump the brakes a little bit …” 

September 15 Neosho implemented updated quarantine guidelines put in place by Larry Berger, Newton County Health Department administrator, that put forth recommendations that differed from the CDC’s guidelines, which drew attention across the state. This ultimately led to the switch back to the original guidelines. 

“… And we’ll continue to, as always, find better ways to serve (the students), but we do a great job with virtual and I think we do a great job with seated instruction, but jumping back and forth is not real conducive to learning,” Cummins said. “And so, we’ve got some challenges, we’ll continue to follow the number and see if they continue to bear out and we don’t get any movement from the state departments. They shared that they think the CDC is looking at some different ways to go about student quarantines. We’ll see, but I’m going to continue to advocate for what’s best for our students. …” 

Within administrative updates the board discussed updates on buildings that are in the process of being designed. Blueprints for the performing arts center showed two different options, two with a balcony and one without. The performing arts center would house 1,500 seats. The board did not have to approve a design yet. 

In administrative reports the board discussed, in addition to the quarantine update, different concerns teachers and the public had. Among those, some were concerned that students and different grades are not being separated properly at recess and lunch. Another concern that was brought up was concern about teachers’ mental wellbeing during this school year; a discussion procured how that could be helped. There was also concern about there not being enough teacher participation in surveys. 

In current action items the board discussed implementing a new bus routing software. Originally it was between two software programs, though the one chosen was called Transfinder. There was also a presentation about a safe room and entry design for the middle school. The board then approved the safe room design. 

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