AUSTIN — After conducting virtual instruction Jan. 4-8 following the Christmas holiday, classes resumed to in-person instruction at the Austin Area School District.
Superintendent Kimberly Rees reported Austin is still following the Health and Safety Plan approved in November. Rees highlighted three things that could make the district move to remote again, including if the district has two or more positive cases in one week period, AHS would have to shut down for three to five days to deep clean the school.
“If we have five or more cases in a week we would have to go remote for 14 days. If we have a number of teachers that have to be quarantined, we may have to go remote due to the limited number of substitutes we have available,” Rees said.
Rees said administration is tracking the kids who are virtual daily and will make determinations on whether to continue in-person or move to remote learning based on the daily numbers. She said the community has been very cooperative at keeping the school up-to-date on their COVID-19 related health situations.
Rees noted basketball has started and a few teams have been quarantined already. Some schools that are remote are not playing. Numbers will be monitored closely. The district is limiting the number of tickets given out to players, but the spectator numbers are very low. The state has allowed 10% capacity, which is less than what was allowed during volleyball season. Tickets will be given to seniors first and then to underclassmen. No spectators from other schools will be permitted.
In the absence of the athletic director, Pam Terrette reported basketball practices have resumed this week with the first game was Jan. 18. All players are to wear masks while playing.
The board appointed Carla VanWhy as junior high girls basketball coach and Jon Ogden as junior high boys basketball coach.
The 2020 tax documents have been prepared and sent out. It was noted that final installments came in from local tax collectors and a full report will be given in February on how COVID-19 has affected school tax collections this past year.
The board voted to reserve $300,000 of the general fund’s unassigned fund balance as an assigned reserve for future debt payments. The board also approved the use of $8,000 from the capital reserve account to pay for the additional abatement costs.
Rees said the district received a small grant from PCCD for $4,800 for COVID-19 related expenses. These funds will be used for technology to help with remote learning. Rees noted Austin will be receiving another CARES Act grant for approximately $150,000.
Britta Hooftallen, a member of the Austin Area School Board of Education, was honored virtually by PSBA Representative Erin Eckerd for her 12 years of service on the School Board.
Committee meetings will begin Jan. 25 and are scheduled for the fourth Monday of each month in the school library beginning at 6 p.m. All board members were urged to attend.
The next regular meeting of the Austin Area Board of Education will be held on Monday, Feb. 8, 2020 at 6 p.m. in the school library.