July 30, 2020 Board Work Session (Metrics for Reopening)

BPS continues to modify its meeting processes in response to the COVID-19  emergency.  Community in-person attendance will not be permitted; but the meeting will be livestreamed through normal channels for viewing in real time.  

-------------------------------------------------------------------

The Board met in a special Board work session on Thursday, July 30, 2020 to discuss the establishment of metrics and mask requirements.  Notice of the work session was advertised in the Thursday, July 23, 2020 edition of Florida Today. An affidavit of publication is available in the Board office.

Opening Exercises
1. Opening Exercises

Chairman Misty Belford called the meeting to order at: 11:00 a.m.

Roll Call
2. Roll Call

Members Present:  Misty Belford, Cheryl McDougall, Tina Descovich, Matt Susin and Katye Campbell

------------------------------------------------------------
Ms. McDougall was present telephonically.
------------------------------------------------------------

Pledge of Allegiance
3. Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman Belford led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Order of Business
Order of Business
4. Presentation by Department of Health

Maria Stahl, Department of Health administrator, began a presentation to go over the Health Department's data dashboard and explained the importance of looking at trends.  She stated that Brevard's hospital capacity is good and that we remain stable.  The number of deaths from COVID - 19 have increased, although that number was primarily in the long term care health facilities. Ms. Stahl stressed the importance of staying home if you are sick; wearing masks if you are unable to maintain social distancing; avoiding groups of larger than 10 and hand hygiene for mitigating the spread. 

 

Epidmiologist Barry Inman said that it is very important for the public to get the flu vaccine so that they do not have to deal with the flu on top of COVID.  He said that COVID is very transmittable with an incubation period of usually between 3 to 6 days. Most outbreaks are the result of someone coming to work sick and it is more transmittable inside than out. Social distancing with masks is effective in mitigating the spread along with hand hygiene.  

 

Board members asked clarifying questions about the data that had been presented as well as testing procedures and reporting. Some questions arose about flu vaccines being available to all employees and whether or not they would be able to receive at the individual schools.  Dr. Thedy, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Human Resources Officer, said she would get that information for the Board. Board members asked about transmission of the virus from children.  Dr. Inman said that it appears that younger children are not as likely to spread the virus. However, he again stressed the importance of masks and handwashing to mitigate the spread.

 

When asked about the reopening plan put into place for schools; Ms. Stahl said she thinks the plan is solid. She stated that there will be cases though.

 

 

 

 

5. Metrics for Reopening Schools

For clarity, Chairman Belford stated that there were two items to be discussed; masks as well as metrics. She began by asking each Board member to state whether or not they wanted to keep the language regarding face coverings to the current language of expected or to modify. 

 

Responses:

  • Susin - Modify
  • Campbell - Keep current language
  • Descovich - Satisfied with current language, but could adjust for age brackets
  • McDougall - Modify
  • Belford - Modify

Chairman Belford asked for Mr. Susin to bring forth his recommendation and then the Board can begin discussions from that.  Mr. Susin said that he would like to modify the mask language from being expected to being required based upon research he had been doing. He said the decision doesn't have anything to do for him besides economics and social impacts based upon school closures. When our schools are closed, our students are hungry and there are multiple studies that have shown that over the pandemic we have students who are starving and the emotional, physical and behavioral issues that go along with that are significant.  the longer they are out, the worse.  Women in the workforce are significantly impacted when our schools are closed because they are the main caregivers. He believes that whether or not a school has to be closed due to COVID, once it has been reopened, truly hinges on whether or not we are wearing masks. He also went into other facets of the ways our students are negatively being impacted due to schools not being in session such as increased numbers of online predators, an alarming increase in the dark web as students are home on the  Every military installation is mandatory masks in areas where there is less than 6 feet.  He said he hinges his decision on making masks mandatory on the fact that if a school is closed, we negatively impact our students, our parents and our workforce and it is proven that masks mitigate the spread.  It behooves us to take every single precaution that we can. He would also like to ask District staff to weigh in as well. 

 

Ms. McDougall said that what they heard from the Health Department to mitigate the spread are  masks, social distancing, handwashing and no large groups.  She liked what Mr. Susin said in that it has affected our single moms, our working families and if we can help prevent the spread she thinks that it behooves us. Looking at the report from the Florida Pediatric Society they talk about the same thing. Masks are a vital component of slowing the spread. 

 

Ms. Descovich stated that if the Board was going to move toward making masks mandatory, exceptions and discipline had to be spelled out. It needs to be clearly defined when it can be taken off if it is going to be mandated.

 

Ms. McDougall said that she knows that they have an amazing group of administrators and cabinet are well equipped to deal with the exceptions.  

 

Ms. Belford said she doesn't want to get hung up on symantics.  Her main goals are results and what the outcomes are. Everyone agrees that school is important for our students and their families for a variety of reasons.  She continued that if they truly believe that, they need to do everything in their power to minimize the liklihood of closing schools down again. She was on the fence about where to go on this issue until a couple of things: 1. It seems very clear tto her from the emails she had been receiving that many people are interpreting expected to mean optional.  and 2.  She had visited a couple of schools during the summer programs and it appears that expected is optional which is concerning to her. We are not opening our schools under optimal conditions. If you look at the metrics she had provided for the countries that had reopened safely have done so when they had less than 1 case per day per 100,000 and Brevard is at 17.  She feels that it makes it all the more important to do whatever we can to mitigate the spread and masks are an important aspect. She absolutely supports mandated or required masks with exceptions. 

 

Ms. Campbell shares the same concerns as Ms. Belford about the public perception of expected. She was very pleased with the video that Dr. Mullins did where he said 

Mr. Susin - Modify; Ms. Campbell - Keep the Part of the metrics conversation included masks. Belford - said that we need a downward trend for 14 days.

Campbell - not willing to go there

Susin - 

 

Consensus for revisiting - not identifying metrics today.

Closing Remarks
6. Closing Remarks/Direction

Dr. Mullins will work with staff to develop the appropriate language for the exceptions for the mask requirement.

Adjournment
7. Adjournment

Chairman Belford adjourned the meeting at: 2:58 p.m.

Further details of this meeting can be found in the published video found at www.brevardschools.org. 

Chairman: _________________________________________ Secretary: _________________________________________
Agenda Plus