Superintendent addresses COVID-19 cases and quarantines at DCS

Dade County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jan Irons Harris addressed the surge of COVID-19 cases and quarantines at DCS during the Board of Education’s Aug. 17 meeting.

 

As of Aug. 24, Harris reported that 14 have tested positive for COVID-19 during the opening weeks of school. Approximately 20 staff and students have been quarantined.

 

“I want to thank everyone at home for your prayers and your thoughts,” Harris said. “We’re doing the very best we can. I promise you that.”

 

Harris said that the schools plan on being as transparent as possible about all potential COVID-19 exposures and positive cases.

 

“We made a promise at the beginning that we would share as much information as we can, legally,” Harris said.

 

Harris said all schools are following instructions from the Georgia Department of Education and the state and local health departments. Harris has been vocal about encouraging parents to visit each of these organization’s websites to learn more about how the schools are handling the pandemic. Harris included some of this information in her newsletter on dadecountyschools.org, which she has also started mailing to parents.

 

“I hope you all are getting my newsletters,” Harris said.

 

Harris said that these instructions are rapidly changing based on what each organization and the CDC deems necessary.

 

“As I said in the beginning, ‘the only thing constant is change,’” Harris said.

 

However, what has not changed is Harris’ attitude towards the pandemic, which is cautiously optimistic.

 

“I personally believe [COVID-19] is a temporary situation,” Harris said. “I choose to believe that. I’m an optimist.”

 

Harris reported that 443 of students have enrolled in virtual school, many of which switched from traditional school during the five-day grace period. For traditional school, # students are currently enrolled. Bus riding numbers are down from 750 to 481.

 

“We predicted this based on the parent survey,” Harris said.

 

Harris then gave an update about financial savings thanks to the sick leave incentive, which was created in 2016 to encourage staff to save their sick days for retirement. For the 2019-2020 school year, 606 fewer sick days were taken, saving DCS $23,131 after $200 bonuses were given to staff who did not use their sick days. 

 

From 2016 to 2020, DCS has saved a total of $103,740 from the incentive. The numbers for the current school year are expected to be skewed due to the pandemic.

 

“I see the incentive as a win-win regardless of the pandemic,” Harris said.

 

Harris also encouraged parents to fill out the free and reduced lunch applications. Parents can sign in through the parent portal and complete the applications, which are fully confidential. 

 

A personnel sheet was sent out after the board returned from the executive session.

 

Shenea Hill was promoted from Assistant CTAE Director to Director of Career and Technology Innovation.

 

Dade Middle School Paraprofessional Kearstyn Bowes, Bus Driver Donna Hillard, Nurse Cynthia Sabogal and Dade Elementary School Aftercare Coordinator Tammy Crane submitted their resignations.

 

Crane will be replaced by Cherly Hayes. Bowes will be replaced by Shannon Ricker and Pamela Chambers at DMS. Sabogal will be replaced by Kathy Graham.

 

Ashley Parker was hired as a Math Teacher for Dade County High School. Grace Brown was hired as an Aftercare Employee at Davis Elementary. Rodney Cartwright and Amy Crump were hired as full-time Bus Drivers. Crump will also be a part-time Custodian.

 

Russell Raney was named CPA for DCHS and DMS. Lauren Cruz and Sarah Moore were named Community Coaches.

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