‘All masks all the time’ inside schools

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Granville Central School District.

A mask usage clarification, an assistant high school principal appointment, a member’s resignation, and a BOCES presentation made up a big chunk of the Granville Board of Education meeting on Dec. 13.

During regular session, McGurl said he had received a clarification from the New York State Education Department regarding mask usage in school buildings.

“It’s not a new rule, but it’s a clarification of the existing rule, that says mask breaks do not exist in schools,” McGurl said. “So basically, inside these walls, it’s all masks all the time.”

“Doesn’t matter if they are pre-kindergarten, doesn’t matter if they are a special needs student, doesn’t matter if they are in music, doesn’t matter if they are in P.E. (physical education), doesn’t matter if you’re teaching in your classroom by yourself. Theoretically and what the state is putting out, it’s all masks, all the time.”

McGurl said the state’s stance “will undoubtedly create issues” and he wants to continue to look into how other schools are responding and acting.

“It is a long day to have a mask on the entire day as a kindergartner, or even as an adult,” he said.

“Certainly, we appreciate that it’s our obligation to follow the rules but at the same time we also have an obligation for the health and welfare of our students and staff. I will let you know more about that, but at this point, I just wanted to put it on everybody’s radar because if we have to switch to ‘all-mask, no-break’, I am fairly confident there is going to be a pretty stiff, negative reaction to that.”

Hicks questioned how students in music class or members of the band would be able to perform in their scheduled concert on Dec. 15.

“Those (other school districts) that are having concerts, the chorus portion, the kids are wearing masks. It does not seem to be causing an issue. Obviously all of the visitors who come to the concert have a mask on,” McGurl said. “Band becomes a little bit more complex. You can’t play a tuba with a mask on, it’s just impossible. I think what most people are doing is you’re going to take it off to play, you’re going to be spaced out and as soon as you’re done playing, the mask goes back on again.”

The board appointed Robert (Bob) Loggins as interim assistant principal at Granville Junior/Senior High School for the remainder of this school year.

Loggins’ begins on Jan. 3 but will be seen in the high school before then in his transition to the position with current assistant principal Dan Poucher’s retirement coming at the end of the month.

Loggins has close to 40 years of experience as an administrator of education in the Capital Region, high school principal Lisa Meade said in a Dec. 14 statement.

“Mr. Loggins retired in August 2018 from the Saratoga Springs City School District where he spent 16 years as a house principal and assistant principal. Before that, he spent 18 years with the Scotia-Glenville School District, where he held various positions including the dean of students at the middle School and the district’s summer school principal,” Meade said.

“Since his retirement, he has served as an interim administrator with the Hudson Falls Central School District, Saratoga Springs City School District, Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical Education Schools both in Albany and Schoharie,” she said.

Loggins will be paid $450 a day and Meade said Loggins is thrilled for the opportunity.

“Mr. Loggins is excited and looking forward to getting to know the students and staff at the Granville Junior/Senior High School,” Meade said.

The board accepted the resignation of board member Emily Jenkins at the meeting, as board president Audrey Hicks said Jenkins and her family are moving out of the district for work purposes.

Secretary to superintendent Tom McGurl and district clerk Ashlee Zinn said the board has 60 days to replace Jenkins by appointing a new member.

“That person will have to go up for election, it will be a vacancy on the board in May when we do the election, so if they wanted to keep the position, they would have to run again,” Zinn said. “So, we will actually have four seats on the ballot in May. The three that we usually do (Hicks, Daniel Nelson and Ed Vladyka) and then the fourth. It (the term) will still end when Emily’s would have ended (2024).”

The appointee must be a district resident for at least one year prior to the election in May, above the age of 18 and not be a felon, according to the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA).

“They cannot be employed by the board on which they will serve or live in the same household with a family member who is also a member of the same school board,” the NYSSBA “Running for the School Board” online pamphlet said.

Hicks said there were several ways to select a candidate after seeing this happen in her years of experience. The board president said the board could nominate an individual, could advertise the opening in the newspaper or hold a special election.

“I will tell you from in the past, we’ve done all of the above, but at one point when we advertised and chose someone, this person turned out to be a wonderful board member, but I will tell you, she had not been on the board before and she found out jumping on the board in the middle of the year not knowing what’s going on was mind-blowing. So, take that into consideration,” Hicks said.

Hicks said the board would discuss ways to go about the process in executive session, which lasted well over two hours.

Three representatives from WSWHE BOCES and three Granville juniors in the BOCES program spoke candidly on their mission and the students’ experiences and payoff with the alternative option of learning.

Kalyn Gould and Nicholas Greene are members of the Auto Tech I program and Sydney Liebig is the lone Granville member of the Early College Career Academy through Suny Adirondack Community College in IT/Computer Networking.

Gould and Greene begin their day at Granville JSHS with four classes and go to one of the four BOCES campuses where they learn a vast array of techniques and get hands-on experience, training and certifications in a field they are both passionate about.

“BOCES was a good decision for me because it allowed me to get out of what I normally see in a day,” Gould said.

“BOCES gives me the certifications I need to get scholarships to UNOH (University of Northwestern Ohio), which is a very good automotive school,” Greene said.

As for Liebig, completing college-level courses ahead of when she would be expected to take them makes her life easier down the road, where she anticipates pursuing a bachelor’s degree after obtaining an associate’s degree from SUNY ACC.

“It kind of just affirmed what I wanted to do,” Liebig said.

Retiring WSWHE BOCES superintendent James Dexter delivers a presentation to the Granville Board of Education on how the BOCES program may be affected in the next three to five years.

Retiring WSWHE BOCES superintendent James Dexter, deputy district superintendent Anthony Muller and BOCES board member David Petruska spoke on the advantages of BOCES and where they all would like to see focus aligned to in the next three to five years.

“This is an opportunity for kids to learn something that school’s can’t provide,” Dexter said.

Dexter identified three key challenges BOCES will be faced with going forward are declining enrollment in the supervisory district, long-range facilities planning and the opportunity for all-women in trades.