Fluvanna Passes Transgender Policy

Ruthann Carr

The Fluvanna School Board passed its state-mandated transgender policy at the meeting Wednesday (Oct. 13)

Fluvanna is complying with the law by adding the state code each current policy refers to. The motion passed 3-2 with Perrie Johnson (Fork Union), James Kelley (Palmyra) and Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) voting for the motion and Andrew Pullen (Columbia) and Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) voting against.

The Board recognized bus driver and teacher aide Ali Marks for superior performance.

During public comments Rebecca Newman introduced herself as the new Fluvanna Education Association president.

“I’m hoping to be proactive rather than reactive,” Newman said.

Superintendent Peter Gretz said staff having to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure won’t have to use their sick leave and won’t be docked pay. The policy will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.

Gretz said he’s seen no abuse of this policy.

During his report, Gretz said a person at each school will be designated to help coordinate with those learning at home whether because of quarantine or other long-term situation.

There is a higher volume of absences whether based on truancy or parental nervousness about quarantine, Gretz said.

Pullen said the message to parents of not sending their students to school if they have symptoms could be one reason for the lower attendance.

Gretz said he’s sent two notices to families about signing up for Virtual Virginia. Sign up for the second semester begins Nov. 1

Director of Elementary Instruction and Federal Programs Gemma Soares and Executive Director Brenda Gilliam presented student assessment data. A full report can be found at https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/fluco/Board.nsf/Public

Gretz pointed out that there were decreases in participation because many of the tests weren’t required.

The achievement report showed Fluvanna students doing better than the state average in many areas.

“I’m very proud of this data and I had nothing to do with it,” Gretz said. “Kudos to the instructional team, to you and (former superintendent) Mr. (Chuck) Winkler.”

On the other hand, Gretz said, teachers see a lot of students who don’t have foundational skills and those skills won’t come back quickly.

“The impact of last year will take a long time to recover from,” he said.

Gretz said the COVID-19 mitigation plan is working well.

The district had 88 positive cases among staff and students since the beginning of the school year.

An additional 104 had to quarantine because of close contact with someone who tested positive. Of those quarantined, only 11 tested positive for COVID-19.

Gretz suggested a change in quarantine policy with the idea of balancing health and wellness of students and academic needs.

Right now if a person is symptomatic they must quarantine 14 days. If not symptomatic the person in quarantine can return to school on the 10th day with a negative test.

Gretz suggested if a non-symptomatic quarantining person has a negative test after five days, they be cleared to return on day seven.

The Board agreed.

In other matters, Johnson suggested starting a day care center in the schools. It would serve staff and could possibly tie into a child-care instruction career tract. A discussion followed.

She also suggested having a staff liaison attend Board meetings as a way to get staff input on budget negotiations. Johnson said she thought the Fluvanna Educations Association could choose the liaison.

Pullen said he was against either a staff representative or collective bargaining.

Gretz suggested the role of staff liaison be clearly defined if the Board decides to have one.

No decision was made on either proposal.

The School Board budget seminar is scheduled for Oct. 20.

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