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Lanett School Board allows in-person attendance

For the first time since COVID-19 shut down the school system in March, the Lanett City Board of Education allowed in-person attendance at their meeting on Monday.

At the meeting, the council approved the retirement of W.O. Lance Principal Jamie Heard.

“I don’t know who our next principal is going to be, but they have some very big shoes to fill,” Board of Education Chairman Gwen Harris-Brooks said. “Mr. Heard, you have done an outstanding job. You are well respected in this community as a leader. A lot of parents know you. If they said ‘Mr. Heard said it’ then that’s the end of the conversation. That means a lot. You’ve had your hands on a lot of kids in this area. We really appreciate the job that you’re doing.”

Heard has been the principal at W.O. Lance since 1994 but has been teaching in Chambers County since 1981. Heard graduated from Valley High School in the mid-1970s.

Heard’s retirement will become effective on Dec. 18.

In her superintendent report, Lanett City School Superintendent Jennifer Boyd updated the board on how the start of in-person teaching has gone at every school.

“We are excited about how things are progressing with our students being back on campus,” Body said.

For those wishing to join the PTO at W.O. Lance, the first virtual PTO meeting will be on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.

Boyd also updated the council on the numbers of students and staff testing positive since August 12, which is when staff returned to campus.

There have been a total of seven students and a pair of staff members to test positive since early August. There have been 13 students and five staff members that have come in close contact to someone with COVID-19 and have been required to quarantine.

“Our overall goal has remained with the mindset that our students will be able to return to campus for five on-campus days,” Boyd said. “That’s going to be done in phases. We will continue to monitor the current climate and look at the health data in making that decision as to whether or not it is safe enough to bring our students back into the learning environment for five days. I want to encourage our staff, our students, our parents, anyone that visits the school that we have to remain dedicated to the process. I know it’s a little bit inconvenient sometimes with some of the restrictions that we have in place, but everything that we are doing, we’re doing it so we can hopefully mitigate the spread of COVID here in our schools.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health has a COVID-19 dashboard that gives numbers for each school district.

Boyd also talked about a bond the school system had in place. The bond, which does not have to be paid back, gives the district about $1.5 million. The bond will allow the school system to take care of some projects in its capital plan.

“Hopefully, we can begin the process,” Boyd said. “It is somewhat of an extensive process….but at least we are one step closer to taking care of some district-wide maintenance that needs to be taken care of. Our buildings are in really good shape, but there are still some on-going capital projects that need to be completed, so I’m very excited that the state department has allocated to us a great amount of bond funds that we are certain to be good stewards of, so we can complete as many projects as we can.”