Logan board approves reopening plan
July 22, 2020
The Logan Municipal Schools board last week approved a fall reopening plan but rejected an option for additional instruction time if schools close because of COVID-19 and the district is forced to online teaching.
The New Mexico Public Education Department offered districts up to 10 more instructional days if they have to resort to virtual learning because of the pandemic. Logan superintendent Dennis Roch said the district’s continuous learning plan used when schools closed in March showed high participation and no loss in academic competency for its students, including all 22 of its now-graduated seniors.
Roch said teachers have even more say with online learning plans for the coming school year and expressed confidence the same success it saw in 2019-2020 can be replicated.
He said the PED also recommends more social and emotional support for students and teachers who miss each other because of a lack of in-person instruction. He said schools might consider hiring a mental-health counselor or offering a crisis line.
One issue for online learning is childcare. He said a few school districts are investigating having area churches temporarily offering daycare services. Roch said Logan “may look into that” as an option.
Roch acknowledged PED guidelines are “changing minute by minute” because of the pandemic. He said the state is giving districts some flexibility to meet scoring guides because of its disruption.
Later in the meeting, Roch revealed the results of a recent survey of families and teachers that received nearly 100 responses. It revealed they are largely unconcerned about coronavirus.
The survey indicated 93% of families are unconcerned about the virus and ready to resume in-person classes as usual. One concession to the pandemic was many wanted more sanitization of school facilities, which Roch said has been done.
The survey showed 85% of staff wanted to bring all students back for in-person classes, and 74% didn’t want face coverings required. All staff members wanted meals held in the cafeteria and not in classrooms. About 88% of staff want longer transition times between classes to ensure student separation instead of keeping pupils in one classroom for all or most of the day.
Roch noted the northeast and southeast parts of the state each contained only 1% of COVID-19 deaths in New Mexico and questioned “one size fits all” policies for regions that aren’t as affected by the virus.
In other business:
• The board approved a salary schedule for the upcoming school year that reflects 1% pay raises for teachers and staff instead of 4% raises originally approved by the state legislature before the pandemic. Roch noted lower-paid employees get a larger-percentage subsidy for benefits. He also said the state lawmakers had anticipated an 8.7% increase in health-insurance premiums, but a recent special session capped that to 6%. The 1% pay raise could essentially cover those premium increases.
• The board approved a contract with MASA Global for $7,560 to provide free in-network medical transportation by ambulance or helicopter for district employees. Roch said the benefit would be available to employees and dependents through age 26. He said he wanted to give school workers an additional benefit after the state reduced their pay raises.
n The board approved a resolution from the New Mexico Department of Transportation to receive a total of $24,417, with Logan’s share at $5,354. Using a $14,639 state allotment from the previous year, Roch said the total of about $39,000 would pave the parking lot south of the football field. The lot is a dirt surface that becomes muddy and potholed after rains. Roch said he thought the new surface would consist of packed gravel but would upgrade it if enough funds can cover it.
• During his superintendent’s report, Roch said discussed COVID-related changes to family medical-leave regulations. The new federal law allows up to 80 hours of paid leave for employees with COVID-19 symptoms or those under quarantine for exposure. The law also allows two-thirds paid leave if a worker has to care for a child or family member affected by the disease. It also allows up to 10 weeks leave at two-thirds pay to care for a child whose school or child-care facility is closed because of coronavirus. Roch said the regulations have big potential effects on small, rural school districts.
• The board tabled letting for bids to dispose of a 10-year-old commercial stove replaced by a new stove covered by a grant. Roch said the stove, if new, would cost about $7,400, and he considered a minimum bid of $3,500 for it. Board members advised him to see whether local entities, including the senior center, could use it.
• Board members discussed a policy revision regarding Title IX nondiscrimination laws. Roch said the revision affects all school activities and requires the appointment of a grievance coordinator and compliance officer.