School Board meets before start of school

School Starts Friday

Cameron Parish School will open Friday for in person and virtual classes. Teachers have been in school since last Tuesday, preparing their room for the needs of social distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks will be required on the bus and until entering the classroom. Thermal cameras will be used to check temperatures of all students during first period. The number of students opting out of virtual learning has dropped from 197 to 180, said School Superintendent Charley Lemons at Monday’s School Board meeting.

Lemons reported that an office staff member had contracted COVID-19 and recovered, and necessary steps had been taken.

School Board members had a lot of questions about the process of dealing with students who may be ill, with or without a COVID-19 diagnosis. Medical Advisor Dr. Kevin Dupke and Cameron Parish Health Unit nurse Susan Dupont provided guidance.

If a student shows a temperature, he or she will be sent to the school nurse and kept in an isolated space until picked up. If a student shows two or more symptoms of COVID-19, they will be sent home for 14 day quarantine, unless the parents get a test that comes back negative. They will be able to continue school work virtually.

If a student tests positive for the virus, all family members who have been in contact will also be quarantined for 14 days from the date of first symptoms. Any fellow students who were within six feet of the infected student for more than 15 minutes will also be sent home under quarantine.

If another student in the class tests positive within a few days, the whole class could be sent home. In one Mississippi county, 10 positive high school students resulted in 100 students going home, Lemons said.

If a family member becomes ill during the 14 days, everyone else adds another 14 days from that date. It is possible that a student could be quarantined for 28 days and never get the virus. For this reason officials are asking parents and caregivers to be vigilant in screening their students before bringing them to school. If their symptoms turn out to be just a cold, stomach bug, or sinus infection, they could be back to school quickly.

Because the cost of a COVID test can be high, the school board is looking for ways to get lower cost tests. Quick, same-day tests are not fully available. South Cameron Memorial Hospital has the equipment, but is having trouble getting enough reagent to conduct the quick tests.

Lemons said it is not possible to foresee every scenario, but administrators and teaches have been trying to plan for an many as possible. It will partly be a learn as you go process. He and the staff are using the latest information from the CDC, Office of Public Health, and BESE to plan the best they can.

Millage Reduced

The School Board rescinded last month’s ad valorem tax levy because it was learned that in adopting last year’s millages they were in effect rolling up their millage. Because of reassessment, the millages were automatically reduced to allow no more than the previous year’s revenue. Adopting last year’s millages would have resulted in a $107,500 increase, which would actually be a roll-up, requiring advance notification and advertising.

Instead, the School Board adopted the lower, adjusted millages of 4.81, 10.43, 10.43, and 8.40, for a total of 34.07 mills, down from 34.3. School District 15, Hackberry, property owners will have an additional 11.18 mill tax for the new school bond issue.

The Board adopted the final 2019-20 budget and the new 2020-21 budget without major changes from previous drafts.