Edmonds School Board Feb. 22 set to discuss mask-wearing policy and funding for projects

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors at its Tuesday, Feb. 22 regular business meeting is scheduled to discuss mask-wearing requirements and also budget authorizations for several upcoming projects.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Feb. 17 that statewide mask orders will be ending for most indoor settings on March 21, including K-12 schools and child care facilities. However, school districts can still choose to have students and teachers wear masks.

The governor’s office said the Washington State Department of Health will issue updated guidance the week of March 7 for K-12 schools that will then go into effect on March 21. The guidance will be released early to help schools prepare for the transition.

Schools will still be required to report COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, and also cooperate with public health authorities in responding to those in a manner consistent with procedures for other communicable diseases.

Students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 will still be required to quarantine away from school buildings. Schools must also ensure access to testing for staff and students who have symptoms of or who may have been exposed to COVID-19. If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they must remain at home and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health isolation protocol.

Other items on the agenda include a Mountlake Terrace Elementary School student presentation and a separate update on the school’s improvement plan.

In addition, the school board will discuss budget authorizations for several planned projects, including:

– Upgrading the softball field at Mountlake Terrace High School. The project is intended to replace the grass and drainage system, and also improve the dugouts and bleachers at the softball field. The school district’s capital projects office is requesting project authorization and a preliminary budget authorization of $200,000. The upgrade project would be funded from the district’s 2020 levy, that was approved by voters, and its total budget is estimated at $3 million. If approved, the district will then initiate preliminary design and cost estimates. That process also includes evaluating a range of all-weather surface options and costs. Staff would then bring back a recommendation to the school board for authorizing a construction budget and requesting a call for bids. The project’s construction work is proposed for summer 2023.

– An additional budget authorization for the replacement of Oak Heights Elementary School. The district’s capital projects office is recommending authorization of a $3 million budget increase to the project, for a total authorized preliminary budget of $3.5 million. The school replacement project was approved by voters as part of the 2021 funding levy. If approved, the district will then begin final planning and design work for the project. The school board previously authorized a preliminary budget of $100,000 for initial planning, and then another $400,000 to begin the conceptual design phase.

– A contract for the purchase and installation of server and security cameras through Security Solutions, along with an additional budget authorization of $900,000 for the 2021 Safety and Security Upgrades project. Those products are needed to update obsolete security hardware throughout the district. The project would be funded by the 2020 levy. The board previously approved a preliminary budget of $750,000 for the 2021 Safety and Security Upgrades project, and then an additional budget authorization of $1 million. Some of the $1.75 million already approved is planned for other safety and security upgrades, such as traffic safety mitigation.

The school district’s capital projects office is requesting the additional money for a total project budget of $2.65 million, which includes the purchase and installation of a new server and 450 security cameras. If approved, Security Solutions would be awarded a contract for nearly $1.5 million to purchase and install the server and security cameras. The project is anticipated to be substantially completed by Oct. 31, 2022.

According to the board agenda, all 600 of the district’s current cameras need replacement due to malfunction, obsolete technology or being beyond their functional life span. It has also been determined an additional 300 cameras need to be strategically placed around the district for better overall security coverage. In addition, the current server does not have the necessary capacity needed for current and future district-wide security camera recordings.

The capital projects office plans to seek the school board’s approval next fiscal year to fund purchasing and installing the remaining 450 cameras.

The remote meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22. There is also an opportunity for public comment, and the complete agenda can be viewed here.

  1. I don’t see any way for administration and board members to legitimately discuss mask wearing and Covid-19 protocols in schools while still continuing to meet remotely. They were scheduled to resume in person meetings last month but voted to continue with remote meetings because they had concerns about Covid-19. They should meet in person to discuss this and apply any changes made to classrooms to board meetings – stand in solidarity with students and staff.

    1. The board doesn’t want to hear from the parents or the concerned citizens who pay their salaries. They want to do what they want to do behind closed doors, without public input. No one can come to the meeting. The way you get to “say something” is by writing it up at least 2 hours before the meeting starts and emailing it in. Then they may read it during the meeting, but they don’t have to read it or respond to it in any way. There meetings should have long ago been opened up to the public for any discussions, not just masks.

      1. The meetings are remote but you can make public comment during the meeting. Here’s what it says on the district website:

        To decrease the public spread of COVID 19, Dr. Spitters of the Snohomish Health District has recommended public meetings be held remotely. The School Board will continue virtual meetings, until further notice. View the streaming video here. https://edmondssd.new.swagit.com/views/266/

        The Board will provide up to thirty (30) minutes during its regular meeting during which the public may comment live. If the entire thirty (30) minutes has been used, the board president will have the discretion to provide additional time for comments later in the meeting. The Board encourages public comments; each speakers’ time is limited to three (3) minutes.

        Those who would like to speak during the virtual meeting may register here from the Friday preceding the meeting until 3:00 the day of the meeting. The Board will continue to accept written comments, but will not read them aloud. Written comments received will be published with the approved minutes.

  2. I sat in on this meeting thinking the board already had their minds made up. We heard opinions from both sides for and against masking. There were emotional analogies, anecdotes, and stories of changes in basic play for children. The West Coast states have agreed to lift the indoor mask mandate March 12th where masking will be recommended but not required. One of the board members expressed concern that bullying doesn’t take place for those choosing to mask up. I would like to see the same consideration for those who choose not to mask. I am curious to see the long-term effects on society when this pandemic is accepted as endemic.

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