Spring Valley School Board keeps masking optional

Posted 8/4/21

Storm damage totaled MS/HS gym floor SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley School Board held a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 2. The board meeting highlighted the district’s Return to Learning …

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Spring Valley School Board keeps masking optional


Storm damage totaled MS/HS gym floor

SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley School Board held a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 2. The board meeting highlighted the district’s Return to Learning Plan for the 2021-22 school year, plans to update the district’s long-term strategic plan and addressed damage from the recent storm to the high school / middle school building.

The meeting started with allotted time for the community to share any thoughts and opinions with the board. Many members of the community attended this meeting to share their stance on the use of masks in the upcoming school year. The people in attendance all spoke extensively about their opposition toward wearing masks.

There were athletic coaches, teachers, students and many parents in attendance and each person who talked in front of the board spoke against the use of masks in the upcoming year for grades K-12. A lot of the points the community touched on pertained to the mental health of students and their concerns about the quality of education students receive while using online modes of instruction.

Mental health of students has been affected by the pandemic and many parents are worried that if masks are required and if long absences from school continue (due to quarantines) that this will only worsen.

After the community finished sharing thoughts and opinions, the rest of the meeting continued in order of the approved agenda. The first item was an update on the severe weather damage that the recent storm caused.

“The gym was a total loss due to the 10by-30 hole in the wall of the gym, the floor flooded and was completely damaged,” Superintendent John Groh said.

Other damages include the shattering of sky lights in the high school/middle school building and the roof of a shed located on school property.

The repairs will start as soon as possible, and the gym is set to be repaired before the first basketball game takes place in the upcoming school year. Market & Johnson, the construction management and general contracting company that is being used for construction of the new elementary building, is helping the district in leading the process for repairing damages.

Fortunately, if the use of a gym is needed before repairs are completed, the new elementary school gym will be available for use by the middle and high school.

The meeting moved into the next item which pertained to Fund 46, which is where excess funds go at the end of the school year. Because of health insurance premiums and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSER), there were some excess funds that the district has which will go into ‘Fund 46’.

The board then discussed athletic and activity user fees that were postponed during the last school year because of the COVID19 pandemic. Each activity and athletic program through the school required an entrance fee; the money from each entrance fee was used as an extra form of revenue for the district.

The board decided to postpone these fees for another year because the extra revenue is not needed at this time due to the district’s financial stability. The meeting moved into the review of the Return to Learning Plan for the 2021-22 school year. This plan is something that is required for school district receiving ESSER funds from the federal government. The plan highlighted several sections that outlined the overall plans for COVID-19 mitigation in the coming school year.

The district decided to not revise the plan at this time, meaning the Spring Valley School District is not requiring masks for students and teachers and making them an optional choice. This choice was made based on the local data of case rates in the area. Pierce County is currently at a moderate infection level and is averaging 11 new COVID cases per week.

The board decided that because of the moderate level, masks didn’t need to be required for the upcoming school year. However, due to an order from the CDC, masks are required on all forms of public transportation, and this includes school buses. In the upcoming school year, masks will be required if students use this form of transportation at any time, including on the way to and from games.

The board recognized that the current plan put forth is not in complete compliance with guidance from the Pierce County Health Department; however they believe the plan they have is best for students and is in the community’s best interest. The board also acknowledged that if infection rates change and as the pandemic continues to change, the plan can change.

There are plans to provide a COVID-19 testing clinic at the school for students that allows for equal access to testing. The goal of an on-site testing clinic is for accessibility and efficiency. Testing will not be required but it will be available as a choice for students when showing symptoms or if exposed.

Vaccinations are not required for staff or students and masks are optional regardless of vaccination status at this time. The school plans to offer resources for the community in regard to vaccine clinics and will continue to provide information about COVID-19 as the nature of the pandemic continuously changes.

The meeting then went into closed session and adjourned after returning to open session.