• News from the Board -- October 5, 2021

    Posted by Jessica wells on 10/7/2021 11:15:00 AM

     

    The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on October 5 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for the meeting included COVID-19 protocols and practices and 2020-2021 accountability data.  

    OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson presented to the Board a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted Teacher of the Year finalists, students who created a fire safety activity book, and finance awards. Following the Good News Spotlight, 16 speakers spoke during the public comment period.  

    In the meeting’s first item of general business, the Board discussed the district’s COVID-19 protocols and whether to continue them for the next month. Board Chair Bob Williams reminded the audience that the Board is now required to revisit and vote on its COVID protocols each month, per state law. After hearing comments from the audience and discussing the benefits of continuing to require face coverings in schools, the Board decided in a 5-1 vote to keep the protocols as they were, with face covering requirements in place. The dissenting vote came from Board member Joseph Speranza, and member Eric Whitfield was not in attendance.  

    This decision was guided by data and input from staff who, over the weeks following the implementation of required face coverings, saw a significant drop in the number of student exclusions due to exposure at school. Data from September 7 showed nearly 2,300 students were excluded from in-person learning after an in-school exposure. Data from September 30 showed that number had dropped to just 251. Current quarantine guidelines from the CDC and NCDHHS state that individuals identified as close contacts of someone who is COVID positive must quarantine, unless both individuals were appropriately masked during the encounter. Requiring masks has greatly reduced the number of exclusions and helped the district maintain the delivery of in-person instruction students need.  

    Last on the agenda was a presentation from Director of Research and Accountability Lisa Thompson, who shared with the Board data from 2020-2021 testing. Thompson said that, though the past few years have been challenging due to Hurricane Florence and COVID-19, OCS trended above the state in most measured areas, including Math 1, Biology, English 2, Reading in grades 3-8, and Science in grades 5 and 8. The district also exceeded the state 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate (OCS 89.4%; NC 86.9%), percentage of students achieving Silver or higher on WorkKeys (OCS 64%; NC 63.3%), and percentage of students meeting the ACT benchmark (OCS 57.6%; NC 55.2%). Recovering from the learning loss our students have experienced over the past year will be a process, Thompson said. She said solid core instruction will be the key to recovery.  

    In his closing comments, Dr. Barry Collins thanked the presenters, as well as OCS staff, for their hard work and dedication.  

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