Posted Date: 04/16/2021
March 22, 2021 – At the beginning of the meeting, the Board heard from six parents who gave public comments urging the District to remove the mask requirement in AISD schools. During his Superintendent’s Report, Doug Loomis presented information about the COVID pandemic, positivity rates, vaccinations and testing, quarantine rules and masks. He said about 9 percent of Amarillo ISD students are now doing school virtually, compared to a high of about 20 percent at the beginning of the school year. “Our primary goal throughout the pandemic has been to keep the doors open. Our kids need to be in school,” he said.
Mr. Loomis said overall, feedback the District has received about the mask requirement has been virtually equal in the number of people who want the AISD mask mandate to be removed and those who want it to continue. We have to make sure our teachers are safe and we have to be mindful of quarantine rules, Loomis said. “We can’t forget the heroic efforts of teachers and other staff – they’re in the trenches every day,” he said. According to a staff survey, 58.6 percent of AISD teachers and staff have received at least the first dose of the COVID vaccine, and at least another 11 percent say they intend to get vaccinated. Loomis said Amarillo Public Health Department quarantine rules have not changed. APHD says in case of exposure both people have to be masked to avoid quarantine. If masks are optional in schools, we risk having to shut down entire classrooms or entire campuses, he said.
The Board took no action at the meeting to change the mask requirement in AISD schools but trustees said they would continue to evaluate the situation. Board president Robin Malone said, “As leaders we have to err on the side of caution and safety.”
The Board approved contracts with Carmen Roofing and L. Wallace Construction for roofing projects at Caprock High School, Bowie and Travis 6th Grade campuses, and Tradewind Elementary. The total cost for these roof repair/replacement projects will be about $8.6 million and will be paid from 2017 hail insurance proceeds. The Board also authorized the District to submit a request to the state for an attendance waiver for four missed school days due to the freezing temperatures and power outages in February.
In other business, trustees approved a series of innovative courses for special education and for the AmTech Career Academy, set to open next fall. The courses for AmTech include engineering, dental science, pharmacy science, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Innovative courses are state-approved courses that have been developed by other districts and that offer additional options for electives for AISD high school students.
Trustees thanked those who generously gave gifts and donations to AISD and its schools this month. A total of $25,480.85 was given to various schools from Blue Rock, CNS Pantex Plant, FirstBank Southwest, Amarillo Association of Realtors, Central Church of Christ, and Matt and Jill Griffin.