News from the Board -- September 7, 2021

Posted by Jessica Wells on 9/8/2021 12:30:00 PM


The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on September 7 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for the meeting included COVID-19 protocols and practices, a Clyde Erwin Elementary update and discussion of the 2022-2023 OCS calendar.  

OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson presented to the Board a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted the accomplishments of the teachers representing OCS in the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Rural Teacher Leader Network. Following the Good News Spotlight, 13 speakers spoke during the public comment period.  

The meeting’s first item of general business was the district’s COVID-19 protocols and practices. Board Chair Bob Williams shared that, by law, the Board is now required to revisit and vote on its COVID protocols each month. After a motion to reapprove the protocols as currently written, Board Member Jeff Hudson motioned to amend the protocols in two ways. His motion suggested that face coverings be required for all staff, students ages 5 and older, and visitors when indoors in all Onslow County Schools’ school campuses. He also recommended amending protocols on close contact quarantines to a minimum of 10 days, symptom-free without COVID testing. This measure, he said, is to ease the testing burden on the local medical community.  

Current quarantine guidelines from the CDC and NCDHHS state that individuals identified as close contacts of someone who is COVID positive do not have quarantine if, during the exposure, both individuals were appropriately masked. Discussion and Board comments focused on the district’s high number of quarantines affecting the local healthcare network, the mission-readiness of the Marine Corps, and the education of those students being excluded. In order to reduce the number of close contact exclusions, the Board voted 6-1 to approve both amendments to the district’s COVID-19 protocols. The only dissenting vote came from Board Member Eric Whitfield.  

Next on the agenda was an update from OCS instruction staff on Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School. Dr. Crystal Howard, principal of CEEMS, shared with the Board that the school’s primary focuses for the 2021-2022 school year are instruction, building capacity, magnet recruitment and the new after school arts academy.  

Dr. Howard said, through a new partnership with the YMCA, the school will now be able to offer an after-school arts academy, which will offer student opportunities in dance, music, theater, art, and more. In total, the grant for the program will be a more-than-$1 million investment in opportunities for Clyde Erwin students.  

Through the new arts program and magnet recruitment, Dr. Howard said the school hopes to grow its numbers and offer opportunities to even more students from across Onslow County. When you think of Clyde Erwin Elementary, Dr. Howard said, she wants you to think of leadership, arts, dual-language immersion, culture and magnet choice. The magnet lottery for Clyde Erwin and other magnet programs in the district will open in February, and more information on these opportunities will be shared with families in the months ahead.  

Last on the agenda was a calendar presentation from Brent Anderson. Anderson shared with the Board the legal calendar requirements, including holidays, start and end dates, workdays, instructional hours, and more. He said that a draft calendar for the 2022-2023 school year has been shared with the Board, principals and directors, and would soon be shared with members of the Quality Council and Teacher of the Year Advisory Committee. These groups include principals, teachers, parents and community members. Those with feedback on the calendar should send their thoughts to Brent Anderson at by October 13, 2021. A second draft will be provided for feedback on October 14, and then a final draft will be presented to the Board on November 9, 2021.  


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