Refusing to wear a mask at school may result in more disciplinary action than a phone call home after a vote by the Aiken County Board of Education on Tuesday night.
The board unanimously approved a motion from board member Cameron Nuessle for "the district to give clear guidance to schools on defiance and insubordination with respect to wearing a face covering."
Superintendent King Laurence said refusing to wear a mask could fall under the Code of Conduct's infraction of defiance or, with repeated violations, insubordination. So far, though, Laurence said schools have been calling students' parents or guardians in that situation.
"My belief from the very beginning has been that we could address mask issues not as discipline issues but with a phone call to parents," Laurence said, adding that he hadn't heard of any situations where a phone call to a parent has not solved the issue.
High school exams
After a motion from Nuessle, the school board voted to table one item until the next meeting on Oct. 27: the vote on whether to eliminate high school semester exams, which typically account for 20% of a student's grade.
School district officials requested the board cancel the exams after Virtual SC, which designed many courses for Aiken Innovate, eliminated the exams in early September.
Because Virtual SC cancelled its exams, Aiken County's virtual teachers would have to design their own cumulative exams and bring virtual students into school buildings to take the proctored tests, said Jeanie Glover, chief officer of instruction for the school district.
The school board voted unanimously to survey district employees on their interest on access to voluntary COVID-19 testing.
Also related to COVID-19, the board voted unanimously to provide funding for glass shields for students' desks, which will add to the 8,000 provided by the state.
The school board approved personnel appointments and out-of-district transfer requests.
After returning from executive session, the school board took no action on their discussion about hiring in-house counsel.
All board members were present at the meeting, and they returned to their traditional seating arrangement instead of the two-tiered, socially-distanced version they had been using.
The school board approved donations and grants for multiple schools.
Aiken High received a $2,000 donation from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for instructional materials and supplies, including novels in English and Spanish.
The foundation also donated $3,850 to Redcliffe Elementary. The funds will be used to purchase 22 read-aloud kits for kindergarten through third grade, according to the meeting agenda.
Frank and Dorothy Heckendorn donated $1,000 to purchase laptops for North Aiken Elementary students.
Midland Valley High’s PBIS/Youth Development Team received a $5,000 donation from Napleton Infiniti of Augusta. The funds will be used to buy incentives, like school supplies and T-shirts, for students and teachers.
The South Carolina Arts Commission awarded grants of $7,500 to New Ellenton STEAM Magnet Middle and $7,305 to Schofield Middle. Both grants will go toward art supplies and materials.
The school board also approved a change to the Head Start/Early Head Start Grant. The amendment will eliminate the cost for three small buses and reallocate those funds for fire alarm installation, lawn maintenance, new or upgraded security systems and facility upgrades.
To view a livestream of the meeting, visit acpsd.net.
The board's next regular scheduled meeting will be on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at 1000 Brookhaven Drive.