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The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education met Sept. 16 to discuss bond issue project updates, staff members and COVID-19.

The meeting started off with superintendent Dwight Sanders giving a summary of the guaranteed performance contract and bond issue projects.

Still left to be completed is the installation of the new chillers at the high school, since they were on back order. The board decided to keep the old ones connected and operating during the AC season; since the new ones have finally arrived, once AC is no longer needed, they will be installed. The boiler chimney at the middle school is scheduled to be repaired and should be completed by the end of the month. There are still some controls that need to be added to the HVAC systems that have been installed. Some of the new lights that will be installed in the California Performing Arts Center are on back order. However, most of them have been installed.

Most of the bond issue projects are completed, except for the new construction of the building that will connect the elementary and middle schools, Sanders said.

"Septagon is currently working on the back parking lot to finish the area between the Agriculture and Horticulture buildings," Sanders said. "That should be poured this week and then left to cure before use. There was a section on the front west side of the parking lot that suffered damage when the torrential rains came three weeks ago. That section is slated to be demoed and redone at Septagon's expense after the back lot is finished. Again, we will have to wait for cure time before that area will be usable. I appreciate everyone's patience as we finish up these projects."

That same rainstorm caused water to get onto the new elementary gym floor. Industrial fans and dehumidifiers were placed in the gym for the last three weeks to dry up the water. There is no visible damage, but the contractor who installed the floor will be coming back out to verify there is no damage. The contractor that did the excavation work has insurance that will pay for any damage if any is identified. The bleacher repair at the high school began Wednesday and should be done in early October.

"It would be a huge help if P.E. teachers could hold classes outside as much as possible during these repairs," Sanders said. "Also, they will be using the lobby of the CPAC for a staging area. There will be tools and materials in that area as well as partially completed sections of bleachers. Please remind students not to use the lobby as a walk through to help ensure student safety. This project includes cutting in code-compliant aisles and ADA notches for wheelchairs as well as installing intermediate steps and self-storing hand rails in the main sections of the bleachers. They will also be removing the back two rows of bleachers on the north student section and reattaching those bleachers to the wall so there is room for the teams to sit near the floor without being on the court. Finally, they will be replacing several of the power drive rollers so that the bleachers move in and out smoothly and straight and performing thorough maintenance on all bleachers."

The projects that will be completed later on include: adding Z-Locks to all classroom doors as a secondary lock, redoing the sidewalks and parking lots on the elementary and middle school campus when the new construction is completed, and replacing multiple pieces of kitchen equipment in each building.

The district had a contingency budget of nearly $900,000 for the bond issue projects. And with a few changes to the plans, there's currently $751,367.79 remaining.

"We are doing very well with our budget," Sanders said. "The new construction building between the elementary school and middle school is currently approximately one week behind schedule. This is primarily due to underground utility issues that came up when the contractor was completing the excavation and soil compaction."

After these updates, the board moved into discussing staff members and COVID-19.

The school board approved changes in educational status for those staff members who chose to further their education since last year. There are currently 11 staff members who took enough credit hours to move on the salary schedule.

There was then an extensive conversation about the transition back to the new school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major difficulties has been identifying how many students have been in close contact when someone within the buildings tests positive. As of last Wednesday's meeting, there were seven positive cases within the district — one staff member, five middle school students and one high school student. There are 151 individuals in quarantine, including five staff members, 26 high school students, 100 middle school students and 20 elementary school students. The board decided to declare staff members as essential works, meaning that if a staff member is reported as a close contact where they would normally be required to quarantine for 14 days, they may choose to return to work immediately as long as the following conditions exist: the staff member is asymptomatic, they self screen for symptoms each morning before reporting to work, they must wear a mask during the entire time that they are on duty and they must social distance during the duration of their time while at work. Staff members are able to make the decision to be quarantined or return to school.

"We continue to experience ebbs and flows in student attendance as a result of COVID and quarantines and I do not anticipate that changing," Sanders said. "I know that this environment creates extra work, stress and anxiety. I am extremely proud and appreciative of everyone's extraordinary effort. Keep your head up, we will get through this together."

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