CCSD makes masks optional in school

Published 11:00 am Friday, November 19, 2021

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On Wednesday, the Chambers County School Board voted to approve a new mask policy put forward by CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley. Starting Thursday, masks became optional. CCSD will follow the ADPH School Dashboard to determine whether or not to require masks again. As long as positive COVID cases stay below nine total for the entire district, masks will remain optional.

“Since Oct. 15, we’ve had zero student positive cases,” Chambley said. “We’ve had 15 student quarantine cases, but zero quarantines from the school. … All of the quarantines that have taken place in Chambers County have taken place due to a parent or guardian quarantining a student who would have been exposed at home from a parent or sibling at home.”

Chambley said that though a student had contracted COVID-19 during that time, they did so at home while quarantining, catching it from a parent. He said that since Oct. 15, CCSD has had no positive COVID teacher cases or teacher quarantines.

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Chambley said masks will be required on buses, according to federal guidelines.

In other business at the meeting, technology director Michael Sanders gave an overview of a 2021-2022 technology plan, which the board approved. He said that when he started in his position, there was less than one computer for every four students.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” he said. “We’re sitting at well above a computer or device per student right now.”

Sanders said CCSD has had a lot of issues with broken devices, mainly Chromebooks, as well as missing chargers. Because the devices tend to get broken when being transported to and from school, Sanders proposed that students each have a device at home and a device at school.

“I also applied for a grant,” he said. “There’s an emergency connectivity fund that all the schools in Alabama can apply for. You can buy wireless devices. They’re meant for kids that don’t have internet and a few other things.”

Sanders said he applied for 1,000 devices.

He proposed replacing Smartboards, which are starting to malfunction due to age.

“There was also a cybersecurity fund, and one thing I applied for to use that money was to look at our wireless environment,” he said. “We need to lock it down more. We need to secure it a little better.”

Sanders said CCSD is trying to have students use only school-owned devices for school, whereas they used to be able to use their own devices, as this would help with security and help with bandwidth.

“Everybody at the school has three or four different devices [all] connected, so we’re trying to limit that down,” he said.

Sanders also proposed professional development such as teaching students how to use devices.