3-2 Vote: MCS remains all-virtual until Feb. 8

Williamston – After a review of current COVID-19 case information in the county, members of the Martin County Board of Education voted 3-2 to remain in all virtual learning for now.

This decision followed a presentation by Wes Gray, Health Director of the Martin Tyrrell Washington Health District.

Dr. David Fonseca, Superintendent of Martin County Schools, also updated board members on the current number of MCS staff and students currently impacted by COVID-19.

Prior to Christmas break, Fonseca stated 19 students had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and nearly 300 had been exposed. At that time, 14 staff members were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 80 had been exposed.

As of last Friday (Jan. 7), nine students were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 75 had been exposed. Among staff, at that time, 17 had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and there were 30 who had been exposed, which totaled 47 staff members impacted. By Tuesday afternoon, the total number of staff impacted had dropped to 40.

“The numbers indeed are going down,” Fonseca stated to board members. Board member Gene Scott questioned the numbers, explaining he had been told of more cases.

Fonseca confirmed all numbers he reported were tallied by school nurses.

Scott expressed concerned going back now would be too early.

In his presentation, Gray showed optimism regarding the slowly declining case numbers in Martin County, but still expressed concerns regarding rising hospitalization numbers and community spread. He noted more concern about continued community spread than schools being a center of spreading.

“Schools themselves are not contributors,” he explained.

Following additional discussions, which ranged from vaccine availability to mortality rates, the conversation focused on the MCS schedule.

Board member Van Heath added he was in agreement to remain on the current path – all virtual learning – another couple of weeks.

Scott made a motion for Martin County Schools to remain on remote learning for two weeks.

Board member Gail Cargile offered a second to Scott’s motion.

Heath – who joined the meeting virtually – along with Scott and Cargile all voted in favor of the motion.

Board members Keisha Manson, Renee Purvis and Barbara Council, chair, voted against the motion.

Board member Kenneth Harrell was absent from the meeting.

Following the vote, Scott explained to Council the chair should not have voted, citing Roberts Rules of Order, and that she should only vote in the occurrence of a tie.

Council explained her desire to do this (the vote) correctly and resended her vote – leaving the decision 3-2.

Upon further examination, MCS has a policy ¬– last revised in 2004 – describing the duties and responsibilities of the board chair, vice chair and secretary to the board including voting procedures.

Fonseca added MCS is currently examining all policies, including those governing board meetings, and welcomes anyone with questions to contact MCS Central Office at 792-1575.

MCS now makes recordings of board meetings available through Google Meets and You Tube. Visit their website, www.martin.k12.nc.us and click News for access for information.

Earlier in the meeting, an update was provided on the number of student meals served during the week of Jan. 11-15.

According to the MCS Child Nutrition staff, a total of 5,591 breakfast meals and 5,461 lunches were served either from the school sites or by way of delivery to student communities.

Sarah Hodges Stalls can be reached via email at shstalls@ncweeklies.com