The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has signaled the possibility of a resurgence of the pandemic, and the Paris Special School District is making plans on how to deal with a bad scenario.

Director of Schools Norma Gerrell told the PSSD board Tuesday that there were no adults or students who tested positive during the summer learning program from June 1 through July 9.

As of Tuesday, however, two PSSD students had been quarantined recently because their parents have tested positive. Those students will miss the first week of school, and the system will provide remote learning for them.

“Our goal is to have students attend as normal, but we’re going to have to sanitize,” Dr. Gerrell said. “We’re going to need to do assigned seating, so that we can contact trace if we have to.”

The PSSD policy on masks will be to encourage all non-vaccinated students and staff to wear masks while at school or on a bus.

The school system is not offering remote learning in the upcoming school year in most cases.

Board member Richard Edwards asked about a hypothetical situation where a student’s parents let the system know “we’re not letting him go to school (because of COVID). We want him to have the virtual learning at home.”

“That’s not an option,” Gerrell replied. “In that case, they would have to enroll their child in a virtual school or home learning program of some kind (and they would no longer be a PSSD student.)”

During Gerrell’s report to the board, she reiterated that the system will be making free breakfast and free lunch available to all students during the upcoming school year, thanks to money from a federal feeding program.

She also indicated the system’s fund balance is sitting at about $9.29 million. That’s after tweaks and adjustments that were figured in after a report of $8.1 million last month.

In other action during Tuesday’s meeting:

• Several changes to board policies were approved. One involved setting the system’s policy as aligning instructional standards with state laws and standards.

“We’re making sure that we’re teaching Tennessee standards, and not following things like common core standards or teaching critical race theory,” Gerrell said.

The policy on summer instruction was also adjusted. The system will be required to establish a time frame for summer school by February of the school year, and let parents know if their students are in danger of having to attend summer school.

Another part of the policy provides that, in order to be promoted, students must have attended and completed 90% of the summer school programs.

• Numerous budget amendments were approved, including the placement of an ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund) planning grant for $125,000 into the budget.

Of that, $70,000 is required to go to a vendor who will help the system compile data and write reports for the state.

“So we get a grant, but we have to pay over fifty percent of that money to a vendor?” asked board member John Steele.

• The board approved a change to the PSSD calendar for the coming year. A day off for the World’s Biggest Fish Fry grand parade was switched from April 22 to April 29, which is the day the Paris-Henry County Jaycees have scheduled the parade.

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