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Palm Coast Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2020 1 week ago

Setting threshold for school closures likely unrealistic, Conklin says

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Also: New student School Board members appointed.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Parents and teachers have repeatedly pressed the Flagler County School Board to come up with a threshold to use for determining when to close schools due to COVID-19.

Brianna Whitfield was seated as a student board member on the School Board Sept. 15, representing Matanzas High School. Image from meeting livestream

Board member Colleen Conklin has brought those concerns up in past board meetings. But at a meeting Sept. 15, Conklin said her conversations with district staff have led her to believe that setting a threshold may not be feasible. 

“There are so many variables in every single situation that are different,” she said. “There’s no cookie cutter solution to this situation. And so to write down in a policy or come up with a specific number or a threshold, would just be unrealistic, almost. Each case really deserves the time to be looked at individually.”

That said, she added, “We’re all watching the numbers.”

Kyleigh Ruddy was seated as a student board member on the School Board Sept. 15, representing Flagler Palm Coast High School. Image from meeting livestream

So far, she said, the district has had 36 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the largest number at Old Kings Elementary. Still, she said, the cases there are only about 1.5% of the school’s total population. 

“So I say that with the caution that we try to keep things in perspective, but also stay very vigilant in looking at the factors and variables that are contributing to what is happening at each location,” Conklin said. 

Conklin said she does have concerns about class sizes as students are shifted around, and about supplies reaching teachers and staff. She suggested that the next School Board meeting include a report on what supplies are available for teachers and staff members who would like to request them. 

"I know what I see behind the scenes, and I see people killing themselves and working themselves trying to make all of this work," she said. "... The reality is, people are concerned, they’re worried, and I acknowledge that and we’re working on it."

New student board members seated

Two new student School Board members were seated on the board Sept. 15. 

Brianna Whitfield is representing Matanzas High School, and Kyleigh Ruddy is representing Flagler Palm Coast High School. 

Whitfield is captain of Matanzas’ volleyball team, is dual enrolled and plans to major in communications in college, Matanzas High School Principal Jeff Reeves said as he introduced her. 

Ruddy is the president of FPC’s Future Problem Solving club, treasurer of the Interact Club and a drum major for the marching band, FPC Assistant Principal Nathan Lovelette said.

Student board members serve for the academic year.

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