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NCSS takes action to disinfect Oak Hill
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In the wake of the recent outbreak of gastroenteritis at Oak Hill Elementary, the Newton County School Board concluded an action needed to disinfect the school during its meeting Tuesday night.

In a 4-0 vote, the board unanimously approved purchasing viral decontamination services from Denver, Colorado-based BELFOR Environmental, Inc. District 1 Board Member Jeff Meadors was absent for the combined work session and voting session.

Oak Hill Elementary School was closed for both students and staff Friday, Dec. 12 due to an outbreak of gastroenteritis. A large number of Oak Hill students had shown symptoms of the virus, causing the Newton County Health Department to recommend closure.

BELFOR, a Georgia School Board Association Risk Management Service approved contractor, was called in to decontaminate the school Friday afternoon and work on the school through the weekend. Michael Barr, director of support services for the Newton County School System, told the board during the meeting that the contract with the company was considered an emergency purchase.

The contract for the service performed is not to exceed $72,000.

Gastroenteritis often causes diarrhea and/or vomiting. According to Health Department officials, these symptoms usually develop in one to two days after exposure and most people get better in one to 10 days without medication.

Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of public relations for the NCSS, says that some students have continued to stay out of school but most have returned.

In other school business, the board accepted a state waiver which eliminates two Georgia Board of Education rules used for promotion, retention and placement. The waiver only applies to fiscal year 2014-2015 for all elementary, middle and high schools in the county.

With the waiver, third, fifth and eighth-grade student’s performance on the reading and math sections of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, CRCT, won’t affect their promotion to the next grade level. For high school students, 20 percent of their overall grade will not be attributed to the Georgia Milestones Assessment, which replaces the End of Course Test this school year.

The waiver does not apply to accountability measures, such as the College and Career Read Performance Index, CCRPI.
Shannon Buff, director of secondary schools for the NCSS, says that waiver was granted due to the implementation of the new testing protocols and scores for these new assessments will not be available until the fall of 2015.

Also, the board approved having a proposed school calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. The calendar features 180 school days with 190 teacher work days. There will be no furlough days for teachers.

The first day of school next year will July 31, 2015.

This is the final school board meeting of the year. The board will reconvene again January 13, 2105 for a work session at 7 p.m. at the Newton County Board of Education Building, 2109 Newton Drive, Covington.