COVID mitigation to be discussed at Juneau School Board meeting

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau School Board meets tonight, and a discussion on the current COVID mitigation plans within schools is planned.

    While on Action Line, School Board President Elizabeth Siddon explained that a work session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. will broadly take up the topic of COVID mitigation.

    "In that work session, we'll be discussing as a board sort of all things COVID mitigation related, including welcoming in-person public participation at our board meetings again, as well as all COVID mitigations for the school district for the upcoming school year."

    One item up for introduction and final approval at the 6 p.m. regular meeting, is to consider whether to continue the COVID testing requirement for unvaccinated staff.

    "When the board put this testing requirement in place towards the beginning of last school year, maybe just prior to the beginning of the school year, the requirement was mandatory for unvaccinated staff and vaccinated staff retained the option to participate in the testing program as well throughout the year. And so with the sort of landscape of COVID changing and rates of infection between vaccinated and unvaccinated shifting, we're considering changes to that testing requirements as well," she said.

    An item up for introduction is a proposal to increase substitute pay. It was spurred by the shortage of subs.

    "It has been one of the harder sort of burdens of coming through COVID is that we don't have substitutes in our buildings at the level that we need them, if staff are out, sick or had been needing to quarantine," she said. "So, we had asked the administration to consider ways to increase interest in people being substitutes in our buildings. We offered a signing bonus last spring, that was an effective strategy to encourage more people to substitute, and this proposal in front of us to increase their pay is another strategy that we'll consider."

    The proposal increases the substitute pay for those with a high school diploma to $20 an hour, and those with a college degree to $25 an hour.

    "This is a subsidy that is being covered right now out of our Cares Act COVID funds and will sunset when Cares Act money sunsets as well well at the end of FY 24, and so we will need to, as a board, decide in our in our operating fund budget process, if we can find our operating fund dollars to cover that subsidy when we go through the budget process in March."

    Other items to be taken up by the board include the introductions of the 6-year capital improvement list and resolutions for the statewide school board conference later this year. Approval of the superintendent's contract is up for final consideration.

    The full meeting begins at 6 p.m., it will be streamed via zoom.

    A link to the full packet is available here.

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