MCSB doubles down on reopening plans; discusses retention incentive pay

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 12:53 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - We’re just a few weeks away from some kids heading back to school in the Chattahoochee Valley and the Muscogee County School Board met for the last time Monday night before the new school year starts.

District officials say they’re continuing to monitor local COVID-19 conditions as students prepare to be back in classrooms. The tentative reopening plans announced by the district last Monday are still what they’re planning for as of Monday night’s meeting.

Pre-K through second graders will go back to school August 6 and third graders through 12th graders will return August 9. Masks will be optional in schools, but required on buses.

With about three weeks to go until the start of the new school year, plans to head back to the classroom still remain tentative as Muscogee County School District officials say they could change depending on the current COVID situation.

“We are continuing to monitor that ongoing situation with the variant that’s out there. Please know that we are monitoring that in concert with our medical panel. To that end, we’ll be meeting with them later this week,” said Dr. David Lewis, superintendent.

During Monday night’s school board meeting, Lewis said they’re planning a virtual meeting next Monday from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. with members of their medical panel and select district officials to address any questions and concerns people may have about the reopening plans.

The school board also approved a one-time retention recruitment employee stipend funded through the American Rescue Plan.

“We’re finding that a lot of people are retiring, but again, our turnover rate was not as high this past year, but we do have fewer people going into the profession. So, this is something we’re trying to incentivize than ever before,” Lewis added.

“I think that we’re starting to see that benefit returned to our students as more of our teachers do choose to stay here or seek out employment in Muscogee County,” said Cathy Williams, District 7 school board member.

Employees will either receive $500 or $1,000 depending on whether or not they are eligible for benefits. Dr. Lewis says these payments will come in two installments at the start of the school year to incentivize employees to stay both semesters.

For next Monday’s virtual meeting, Dr. Lewis says people will be able to talk to experts about whatever questions they have including vaccines. They’ll be sending out login info for the meeting later this week.

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