Accomack School Board Meetings Now Mask-Free

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By Stefanie Jackson – The Accomack school board on April 5 held a public meeting in which face masks were optional for all attendees, the first since COVID-19 mitigation strategies initially were instituted.

The school board did not take action on masks at its March 15 regular meeting, but one week later Superintendent Chris Holland released a letter stating, “On March 22, 2022, the Accomack County School Board approved wearing masks will be optional for all staff and visitors in all of our Accomack County School buildings effective immediately.”

Masks are no longer required for any student, teacher, staff member, or visitor in Accomack County school buildings. 

Coordinator of Student Health Services Tonya Martin reported that as of April 5, Accomack County had no new cases of COVID-19 and a seven-day average of 0.3 cases per day, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Only one Accomack student was positive for COVID-19 on April 5, Martin said.

Director of Special Education Jennifer Annis reviewed the school division’s annual plan for special education, which is required by the Virginia Department of Education.

The plan includes estimates of how much money Accomack schools will spend on special education in the upcoming school year: more than $4.1 million in local funding or $6.6 million in local and state funding combined.

More than $1 million covers salaries and benefits for special education teachers, Annis said.

She also informed the school board of a new procedure for referring children to the early childhood special education program.

Annis reported that many children ages 2, 3, and 4 are being tested for learning disabilities but are not actually disabled; rather, they have not been exposed to language or provided the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to learn.

Children who have been referred for evaluation for learning disabilities will spend 10 days in one of four Accomack elementary schools with early childhood special education programs. Over the course of 10 days, teachers will instruct and assess the children to determine which ones may have learning disabilities, streamlining the referral process.

The school board passed unanimously Holland’s proposed calendar for the 2022-2023 school year, which includes nine days with two-hour early dismissals for teacher work time.

Chairman Ronnie Holden announced that at the next school board meeting April 19, an architectural firm will make a presentation on the Accomac Primary School project, with a public comment period to follow.

Holland announced that a ribbon-cutting for the new Eastern Shore Rural Health dental clinic at Nandua Middle School will be Friday, May 6, 10 a.m.

The new dental clinic is already open and gives parents the option of accompanying their older children to their appointments or allowing the students to go to the clinic straight from class during the school day.

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