Addressing the BOE

Madison County student Jesse Baughcum (L) urges the school board Tuesday to reconsider its recent relaxation of its mask policy during the pandemic.

Madison County students are required to wear masks while changing classes. They are mandated to wear masks while working in a group, pair, or in a lab setting. They must also wear a mask while riding on school transportation.

The county school board clarified its mask policy Tuesday night after Superintendent Michael Williams acknowledged that some of recently approved wording left ambiguity on what’s expected of students. The previous policy said masks “should” be worn while changing classes. The revised policy says students “are required” to wear masks in transition from one class to another.

“The word ‘should’ created some gray areas,” said Williams.

Williams said that the school system has not abandoned mask wearing.

“There are times where it (wearing masks) is still required for students,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting, the school board heard requests from two Madison County High School students to reinstate the mask mandate in classrooms.

Madison County High School student Jesse Baughcum said masks are 95-percent effective when worn by both parties.

“When I wear a mask and people in my classes don’t, I’m not spreading the virus to them, but I can still get the virus myself because they’re not wearing a mask,” said Baughcum. “So they’re risking my health and not theirs by not wearing a mask. I see this as a civic duty because you need to protect your community. And there are a lot of people in our community who do a lot for our school and when we have 1,400-plus students leave a compact environment and go home and go out into the community and choose not to wear a mask, they’re risking other people of the community and I don’t really think that’s fair.”

MCHS student Allen Stephens said “countless people are dying” due to others’ refusal to wear a mask.

“In April, I lost my aunt to this virus when someone who didn’t wear a mask came to her retirement home carrying the virus,” he said. “My aunt was not able to fight for her own life, but I’m here, and I have a voice and I’m going to use it to speak up for people who have pre-existing conditions.”

Stephens said he has a job at a fast-food restaurant and wears a mask for 14 hours a day, including at school and work.

“I know how hard it is to wear a mask for 14 hours in a day, but I know it protects other people, including my family and friends and other people, who maybe I don’t know, but who don’t deserve to contract this virus and have serious long-term health effects,” he said.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other matters Tuesday, assistant superintendent Amanda Wommack reported that sales tax collections were $221,084 for October, down from $229,000 in September, but still “coming in strong.”

Assistant superintendent Dr. Jody Goodroe praised the system’s graduation rate, noting that so many students from Madison County are entering the working world with a diploma.

The board approved the following personnel moves:

•Colbert: approved Kendra Cowart as a long-term substitute for S. Foster; approved leave without pay for paraprofessional Susan Walton.

•Comer: approved leave without pay for teacher Amanda Smith.

•Danielsville: hired Rachel Brooks to the afterschool program; approved Encore enrichment duties for Angela Shubert.

•Hull-Sanford: approved Kaylan Marlowe as a long-term substitute for D. Hanley.

•Ila: approved Tara Hand as a long-term substitute for C. Sapp.

•MCHS: approved leave without pay for teacher Marty Tate.

•MCMS: approved leave without pay for teacher Dianna Oxford; approved an internal transfer of Brandi Willoughby to replace C. Love as secretary.

•School nutrition: approved leave without pay for food assistant Janice Scott.

•Transportation: hired April Goodson as a full-time bus driver, replacing C. Alexander; approved leave without pay for bus driver Carolyn Martin; approved a position change from monitor to full-time driver for Janice Mills; hired Hope Smith as a full-time bus driver, replacing F. Holloway; approved leave without pay for bus driver/monitor Rita Whitehead.

•Various: approved the resignation of MCMS secretary Cammie Love; approved the resignation of Ansley Maddox from the after school program at Hull-Sanford.

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